You are here

Memory at Bay

Afterword by Jason Herbeck. Translated by Paul Curtis Daw. Evelyne Trouillot

BUY Cloth · 160 pp. · 5.5 × 8.5 · ISBN 9780813938080 · $59.50 · Aug 2015
BUY Paper · 160 pp. · 5.5 × 8.5 · ISBN 9780813938097 · $24.50 · Aug 2015
BUY Ebook · 160 pp. · ISBN 9780813938103 · $24.50 · Aug 2015

Winner of the prestigious Prix Carbet--an award won by such distinguished authors as Maryse Condé, Jamaica Kincaid, and Raphaël Confiant-- Memory at Bay is now available in an English translation that brings to life this powerful novel by one of Haiti’s most vital authors, Évelyne Trouillot.

Trouillot introduces us to a bedridden widow of a notorious dictator (in effect, a portrait of Papa Doc Duvalier) and the young émigré who attends to her needs but who harbors a secret--the bitter loss she feels for her mother, a victim of the dictator’s atrocities. The story that unfolds is a deftly plotted psychological drama in which the two women in turn relive their radically contrasting accounts of the dictator’s regime. Partly a retelling of Haiti’s nightmarish history under Duvalier, and partly an exploration of the power of memory, Trouillot’s novel takes a suspenseful turn when the aide contemplates murdering the old widow.

Memory at Bay was praised by the Prix Carbet committee for the way it treats the enigmas of destiny and for a pairing of characters whose voices bring the narrative to the edge of the ineffable.

CARAF Books: Caribbean and African Literature Translated from French


One of the first things I was told in Haiti is that all families have at least one member in the army, at least one member in the Macoutes, and at least one member killed by the army or the Macoutes. Memory at Bay is a distressingly beautiful evocation of this eerie symbiosis between oppressor and victim, by one of the best writers in the Caribbean basin today. As one of Évelyne Trouillot’s characters says to another, My only inheritance from you was your torment.

Madison Smartt Bell

[Memory at Bay] would be well placed in the collections of lovers of Caribbean literature as well as in courses on Caribbean or Haitian history, Caribbean or Haitian literature, and, more broadly, interdisciplinary and cultural studies.

Journal of Haitian Studies

This excellent translation of Haitian writer EÅLvelyne Trouillot’s novel, La meÅLmoire aux abois, published in French in 2010, will enable Englishspeaking readers to discover a unique perspective on the Duvalier dictatorship that started in Haiti with Francois Duvalier, or Papa Doc, and ended in 1986 when his son Jean-Claude Duvalier, or Baby Doc, went into exile in France.... The translation into English of Trouillot’s novel is therefore quite a welcome and necessary addition to the relatively small corpus of Haitian women writers available in English, and it certainly does justice to her beautiful and often poetic writing.

Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature,

Memory at Bay is a haunting text that interweaves the perspectives of two women--one old, one young--as they reflect upon their experiences living in Haiti and the diaspora during and after the Duvalier regime. For me, the beauty of this novel exists in its boundless interiority: the two central characters' memories of Quisqueya (Trouillot uses the Taino name to refer to Haiti) are in constant interaction, generating contradicitions and tensions that form a complicated retelling of a national history.

Caribbean Quarterly

About the Author(s): 

Évelyne Trouillot is a versatile author who has published novels, plays, poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction and whose work has been translated into several languages. In addition to the prize-winning Memory at Bay, her novels include The Infamous Rosalie, which won the Prix de la romancière francophone du Club Soroptimist de Grenoble. She is a lecturer in French at the State University in Port-au-Prince. Paul Curtis Daw has translated works by Marie Darrieussecq, Delphine Coulin, and Michel Lambert. Jason Herbeck is Associate Professor of French at Boise State University.

Interested in this topic?
Stay updated with our newsletters:

Related Books