Lyonel Trouillot’s novel about two slum-dwelling children Marièla and Colin, two children who murder their abusive father is curiously titled Children of Heroes, and that is the least intriguing thing about the work.
Colin and Mariéla Pamphile are the precocious children and progeny of their grossly misnamed father Corazón, a failed boxer and his long-suffering wife Josephine.
Their mother Josephine, is as Trouillot puts it, and Linda Coverdale translates it: “…is a consenting adult. The only thing you can do for her is help her suffer, and that’s all the asks. If anyone told her to leave she’d simply say mind your own business.”
We all have one of those types of people in our lives. Those who are more than content to be someone else’s victim. Josephine may have resigned herself to being hard on her luck for the rest of her life. Not so her defiant daughter Mariéla who may tolerate her father pounding on the face of her mother, but will not allow him to pound nor stomp on her dreams.
Trouillot’s undestated prose, his way of putting a lush sentence together make Children of Heroes a novel worthy of examination and multiple reads.Take this colorful passage from the novel for example:
“I remember Soeur Lucienne, Fat Mayard’s great-aunt. She’d open her mouth, you’d see a big black hole, but no trace of a tooth. She didn’t do a thing for herself. You had to hold her spoon, and force her to bathe. As soon as she saw the bucket, the old woman started shrieking and would crawl naked as an earthworm all the way to the shortcut leading to the furniture factory. You had to run after her, wrestle her back, and wash her down long-distance by emptying the bucket at her.”
Now back to the title. Children of Heroes? Corazón…a hero? Mariéla, the pathetic victim a hero? But they are heroes, in the very way they lived.