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Hadriana in All My Dreams

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  268 ratings  ·  59 reviews
"You do not need to believe in zombies or Vodou to be carried away by this story—a metaphor for all forms of dispossession. . . . René Depestre has gone beyond nostalgia to write a sumptuous love story." —Le Monde

Hadriana in All My Dreams, winner of the prestigious Prix Renaudot, takes place primarily during Carnival in 1938 in the Haitian village of Jacmel. A beautiful
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Akashic Books (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
A new translation from Akashic Books left the translator with the challenge of finding more words for body parts! I enjoyed this completely bizarre novel set in Haiti with a corpse grandmother, sex-addict butterflies, and the central zombie bride. Voodoo and island traditions saturate the novel and the author communicates the story in three different styles. At first I was completely lost and had no idea what was going on, but just went with it and let it swirl around me.

Thanks to the publisher
Lark Benobi
It took me a while to settle into this book, in that it relies perhaps on a shared cultural knowledge I don't have...but once I gave up on understanding every bit of what was going on (for instance, what the heck was going on with Germaine Villaret-Joyeuse's "loins?") it entranced me. Some books cast as wide a net for readers as possible, and make themselves accessible to readers who don't share the author's culture, and other books are for sharing within a culture, author to reader, both with a ...more
Beautiful parable story on Hadriana Siloé, a 18-year-old (white) French girl that lives in Jacmel (Southern Haiti) and on the day of her wedding seems to drop dead before the altar. And then she leads a so-called zombie-existence and especially pursues the author on his long voyage away from his homeland.
This novel contains many surrealist elements, drawn from the Haitian imagination. It's also a very interesting documentary about the zombie phenomenon and about the clash between Catholicism and
Set in the southern Haitian town of Jacmel during Carnival 1938, this magical story centers around Hadriana Siloé, a young woman who mysteriously dies in the middle of her wedding ceremony. There's a rapacious butterfly, vodou lemonade, and a young man who always remembers his first love. The story is told in first person accounts, letters, and diaries. It's very erotic - the translator even notes that she ran out of English words for all the French anatomical phrases used in the original text!

Do the undead deserve true love?
This fascinating, oneiric book written by an important Haitian writer is (to me) completely unique. Hadriana - a French girl of unequaled beauty - is about to marry a Haitian boy - a pilot. But she drops “dead” at the altar. The Carnival-like festivities that had been scheduled go on anyway in place of a wake, and the description of this bizarre and magical celebration is fantastic. This Pagan vs Catholic, life vs death, joy vs grief party? funeral? is brilliantly
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: caribbean-lit
If you want to read this story you have to leave yourself, your understanding of the line between the living and the dead, the masks we put on to exist, and the frenzy that comes from throwing those to the wind. You cannot become entranced within this world, within this story, without a sense of abandonment. Everything is not anything. It is all everything at the same time. It all swirls around the living beast that is Carnival, a thing that cannot be stopped even in death.

Carnival is about
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received this book from the publisher for review.

I read this book a couple weeks ago and for some reason it's taken me this long to write a review. The strange thing is I enjoyed the book, but I'm not entirely sure how to write about it.

It's a book that involves zombies, and I think that automatically makes a reader think something very specific about what kind of book it will be. I guarantee it's not like that. At the risk of sounding especially elitist, this book is not a book about zombies.
This novel really picked up for me after about the first 35 pages. Depestre wrote it about 30 years ago, but it was only recently translated to English.

It is a slow build. Damn is it also dark, sexy, and beautiful. I loved Hadriana as a narrator. Her observations and criticisms are so sharp. I want to sit with these characters and drink iced tea while they tell me stories.

It's a solid read, 3.5 stars.
Andrea Blythe
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fic-fantasy, fiction
A classic of Haitian literature, Hadriana In All My Dreams is a vibrant and sensual tale about Carnival in Jacmel, the magic of Voodoo, the mystery of zombification, a lascivious butterfly, lots of sex (with a multitude of creative words and phrases for describing genitalia), and a young woman's death on her wedding night which sends an entire town into mourning. The story is written with lush, beautiful sexy language that brings Haitian culture to life in a way that's haunting and powerful.

While I appreciate the technical work of the translation here, and imagine that the writing in the original French is equally beautiful, I bounced off of this book pretty hard. I'm honestly surprised I even finished it.

It was refreshing and interesting to see a different take on the zombie that's rooted in Haitian tradition, but the exploration of the zombification of both Hadriana and Haiti came far too late in the book for me. By then I was reading just to get through and to see what
Kobe Bryant
I dont really see what the structure added to the story
Zeynep Şen
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best magical realist works I've read so far. I know it says it's a zombie story but it's more than that. Superstition and the zombification of society is a huge part of the narrative.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was just kind of...odd. I didn't feel any kind of connection with any of the characters, and never had a clear image of what the setting was supposed to look like. Plus, for a good portion of the beginning of the book I had no clue who was narrating. Even once I found out who the person was, I was left wondering why they were the narrator instead of Hadriana who is the main focus of the book. I'm glad it was short because otherwise I probably wouldn't have finished it.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Crazy and good! To be discussed in a bit at book club. A very fantastical read, nice to feel the heat of Haiti in the winter.
Tim Vasil
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Translated from French, Hadriana In All My Dreams is a tale of zombies and romance, Voodoo and eroticism in Haiti in the late 1930's. The narrator tells the tale of Hadriana and others who come into contact with supernatural forces, and the beliefs of the Haitians in the city of Jacmel. Depestre does a good job contrasting Voodoo and Catholicism and the relation of the native islanders to Hadriana and her family, a weatlhy white family from France. Eroticism plays a significant part of the tale, ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
Rating: 0.9 / 5

*groans in disappointment*

I just...I can't even express how gravely disappointed I am with this book. The first reason that I wanted to read it is so as to accustom myself to more Caribbean culture and literature. After reading Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, while such literature and even themes contained are something that I can't relate to in any way, shape, or form whatsoever, I thought to myself, "Heck, let's experience something new!"

The plot to this,
Originally published in 1988, Depestre's novel was just recently translated into English despite having been translated into several other languages and having won literary awards. Bookworms suspect that the many erotic passages dissuaded English publishers from investing in a translation.

Yes, Depestre's Haiti of the late 1930s is sense-filled and teeming with life, but I wouldn't narrowly define it as an erotic novel. The sensual, sexual, spiritual, and intellectual all combine in various
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: translation
It's hard for me to give only two stars, but this book didn't quite do it for me. I think a lot of that has to do with culture shock -- I am a white American male, which is pretty much as far removed from the Haitian culture in the book as you can get. I do love books, though, that take you somewhere else -- that's why I read, after all -- but with this book, I never quite felt like I got it.

Also, I've seen this marketed as a zombie love story... no. There are zombies, but no of The Walking Dead
This was an interesting and lyrically take on zombie literature. You're delving more into the myth of zombies and the culture involved than you are actually getting a zombie story. It may be a short read but it is a long trip this book takes you on, to places that are so dark and erotic and they are light-hearted at times.
Everything about this book called out to me to read it, from the cover to the back summary, and I'm glad I did. Just reading the pages about the carnival during Hadriana wake,
Amanda Thompson
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short novel that packs a big punch. I love Magical Realism, and I haven't read much (if any) Haitian literature. It's certainly a unique story, and one I'll be thinking about for years to come. I loved learning about Haitian voodoo as popular culture has a few misconceptions. I also loved this tragic, romantic zombie tale (and how much of a fighter Hadriana is even when she becomes a zombie). Some slow moments, but learning about voodoo, voodoo vs. Catholicism, and the chapters from ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book within the Magic Realism genre, which although not for everybody, it is a familiar experience for those who grew up in Latin America.

I deeply dislike the modern version of zombies, reduced to a mindless rot; in these book the topic is rooted in the original Haitian Voodoo folklore, which makes it far more interesting, it is also a fast paced, sensual, irreverent and fun read.

As a bonus, I believe René Depestre is the first Haitian author I read, which makes it even more special for me
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
really interesting, it’s more focused on the town of Jacmel and the culture rather than a story or plot... i don’t see the reason for the structure of it and i don’t understand why Patrick was the narrator of this... but i thought it was pretty unique and cool and i loved the eroticism of it. it took way too long to get there though, by the end i finished it because i just wanted to know what happened
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am grateful to Kaiama Glover for her work translating Haitian fiction into English and Edwidge Danticat for promoting and supporting that work!

This is one of my hands-down favorites: a playful, funny novel about a zombi that is also a love story, that is also a story about nostalgia and longing for a version of Haiti ("Haiti"-- literally, metaphorically) that remains only as a ghost. That maybe only ever existed as a ghost.
Christiana Daniela
Ooh, I loved this book! I found the writing style lyrical and enchanting. I'm not very well read on anything Haiti or voodoo and found the novel as a whole fascinating. Additionally, the way the novel tackles human sexuality was like nothing I had been exposed to. I've been reflecting on how I, as an white American raised in a semi-Protestant home, was exposed(///not exposed) to sexual identities.
Paul Wambua
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book slow and confusing at the beginning but once settled on the Haitian words and the story, things start to move pretty fast. This is a book about voodoo, zombies and life in Haiti in the 30's. Well written in two perspectives, one being that of the zombified voodoo victim. Interesting.
Lindsey Dean
That was...bizarre. Kirkus Reviews' blurb on the back cover pretty much says it all: "[A] ribald, free-wheeling magical-realist novel." I don't know that I really understood what was happening until the very end (and even then there are still a lot of questions.) I waver between "I liked it" and "It was okay" but overall I'm glad that I read it.
Roman Leao
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haitian René Depestre’s novel is to zombie literature as Mary Shelley’s book is to mad scientists and monsters or Bram Stoker’s is to vampires. Sure, there is a healthy serving of the fantastical here, but there is also so much more. Recommended to anyone interested in the historical social make up of Haiti or colonialism in general.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book for the first 3/4 of it, but wanted to finish it since it was so short. While reading the last of it, though, I was able to appreciate it a lot more. I think I initially didn't like it because voodoo is a foreign idea to me so I didn't understand a lot of what was happening.
Judy G
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a magical book. To read it let go of all beliefs and assumptions. Its a beautiful book rooted in the culture and world of Haiti years past. It was written originally in 1988 and this is a new translation. Joyful
Fascinating in its uniqueness. It was a treat to read all the details about Haiti during that time.
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René Depestre (born 29 August 1926 Jacmel, Haiti) is a Haitian poet and former communist activist. He is considered to be one of the most prominent figures in Haitian literature. He lived in Cuba as an exile from the Duvalier regime for many years and was a founder of the Casa de las Americas publishing house. He is best known for his poetry.

(from Wikipedia)
“It would make sense, for the purposes of this study, to determine whether the idea of the zombie is in fact one of the traps of colonial history—something Haitians might have internalized and integrated into their own worldview. I” 2 likes
“The vast space sparkling with stars seemed to want to become part of my body.” 0 likes
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