Offering a richly nuanced portrayal placing Haiti in a global context as a place of ethnic and cultural complexity, this novel explores the role of spirituality in Caribbean life and culture. Told through multiple voices in a nonlinear fashion, the narrative unfolds through the perspectives of a Haitian-Syrian merchant, Ruth, who recounts her young adulthood and final days as she intuits her imminent death; Catherine, a professional pianist living in Paris who travels home to Haiti upon hearing of her Aunt Ruth's murder; Rose, Catherine's mother, an empath, who is believed to have committed suicide in Canadian exile in reaction to the worst years of the Duvalier regime; Romulus, a once famous Konpa singer and an addict, who, released by rebels from a Port-au-Prince jail searches for his redemption; and Elsie, an Irish, working-class seer who emigrates to Haiti in 1847 in search of a new mystic who will guide them all. Traversing the terrains of Port-au-Prince middle-class life, working-class French Canada, expatriate Paris, the peat bogs of famine stricken Ireland, and tracing lives that cross boundaries of time and place, this is a deeply absorbing portrayal of a fragmented community whose deepest connections lie in a shared sense of spirituality.
Myriam J. A. Chancy's first novel "Spirit of Haiti" was shortlisted in the Best First Book Category for the Commonwealth Prize 2004; she is also the author of "The Scorpion's Claw" and two scholarly works including, "Framing Silence: Revolutionary Novels" by Haitian Women. She is currently Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati.