22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Lyonel Trouillot

Portrait Lyonel Trouillot
© Hartwig Klappert

Lyonel Trouillot was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1956 and lives there today. Although he grew up in a literary home (his father was a literature professor), Trouillot first studied law before he, like his sisters Evelyne and Jocelyne Trouillot, turned his attention to writing.

He began by writing poems whose subjects (his love for life and Haiti) changed less over the years than their form and style, as Trouillot continually schooled his poetic sensibility through voracious reading. The observation in one of his poems that he could not say how many voices spoke through his, and his remark that in Haiti you don’t have to go looking for things worth writing about, illuminate not only his consciousness of the social problems besetting his country, but also his interest in dealing with them through literature and using his works as a vehicle for social criticism. In his first novel »Rue des Pas-Perdus« (1998; En. »The Street of Lost Footsteps«, 2000), Trouillot describes the events of the night of 30 September 1991, when the hope for a democratic future following the demise of the Duvalier dictatorship was ruthlessly quashed by the military. While he sheds a critical light on the intellectuals who practised self-interested silence or wallowed in their worn-out ideologies during the political repression, the main protagonists in the novel come from the poor, simple folk who suffer the most from the intertwining forces of power and money. »With his vertiginous narrative style, Lyonel Trouillot depicts the traumatisation of people though terror and chaos with great literary finesse and focus« (»Süddeutsche Zeitung«). In his book »Bicentenaire« (2004), the author takes a historical moment, the bicentennial of Haiti’s independence, as a starting point for painting »the picture of a deeply torn country submerged in poverty, corruption and violence« (Litradukt) as shown through a cast of characters.

As a professor for Creole and French literature, Trouillot is keen to foster the next generation of writers. In addition to publishing the literary magazine »Demembre«, which features works by young authors, he also offers them the opportunity to seek advice from experienced authors in his »Ateliers du jeudi soir«. Beyond his literary works, Trouillot has also penned song lyrics and wrote the script for the 2014 film »Murder in Pacot«, which deals with the aftermath of the earthquake of 2010. His latest novel »La belle amour humaine« (2011; En. »The Beautiful Human Love«, 2013) was awarded the Geneva Book Fair Literary Prize in 2012.