Dany Laferrière was born in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, in 1953. He grew up in the village of Petit-Goâve with his grandmother, to whom he later dedicated two novels. He first worked in Port-au-Prince as a journalist however, for the newspaper »Petit Samedi Soir« and the radio station »Radio Haiti Inter«. In 1976, under pressure from the repressive political climate of the time, he saw himself forced to emigrate to Montréal, after seeing his friend and colleague Gasner Raymond murdered by the paramilitary acting for the dictator François Duvalier. Some of Laferrière’s jobs in the Canadian metropolis before publishing his first novel included a stint as a factory worker and as a weather presenter for a private TV station. In 1985 his first book was published, provocatively entitled »Comment faire l’amour avec un negre sans se fatiguer« (Eng. »How to Make Love to a Negro«, 1987), and immediately bringing him to public notice. The novel depicts a North America of two tempos, in which an ambitious black writer pens a book about sexual relations between black men and white women. Here sex is the only means by which young, poor blacks can participate in a world from which they would otherwise be excluded. The novel was adapted for the screen by Jacques Benoît in 1989.
Laferrière published around ten further novels, all written in humorous, flowing and rhythmic language, which – according to the author – make up his »American biography«. They are set in a North America where the ideology of the American dream prevails, and in Haiti under the dictatorship. The author thus focuses his attention specifically on the issue of race and class in the North and South, which he highlights in terms of the desire of black men to overcome their marginalisation and of their sexual desire for white women. »I do not describe any innocent sexuality, but rather a sexuality which is an instrument of political, social and economic power«, the author declared in an interview on his novel »La chair du maître« (1997; t: The master’s flesh), which portrays Haiti’s devaluation under the nineteen-seventies’ dictatorship.
In 2004 Laferrière made his first feature film as script writer and director, »Comment conquérir l’Amérique en une nuit« (2004; t: How to conquer America in one night). It was screened at the World Film Festival in Montréal, where it was awarded the Zenith Prize. His novel »Le Goût des jeunes filles« (1992; Eng. »On the Verge of a Fever«) was also made into a movie as well as his latest work, »Vers le Sud« (2006; Eng. »Heading South«), starring Charlotte Rampling. Here Laferrière reverses his focus and describes older women who move to the South in search of romantic encounters with young black men, and are successful on account of economic superiority. In France the novel was nominated for the Prix Renaudot. Laferrière’s further distinctions include the Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe and the French Foreign Radio Book Prize. The author lives in Montréal.
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