Haitian Book Club: The Gift of Misfortune by Joseph P. Policape

Written by Kat with Leave A Comment

The Gift of Misfortune by Joseph P. Policape is today’s Haitian Book Club selection.

Armand and Deborah Etienne had it all in Haiti.

The Etienne siblings lived a comfortable lifestyle in Port-au-Prince, and had all the perks of the good life—except piece of mind. Deborah refuses to date the son of an official. This probably would have resulted into a bruised ego, and nothing else in any other place in time, but Deborah Etienne is living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in the 1980s, when the spurned advances of a powerful official, can lead to disaster.

So this little incident, coupled with the general restlessness of that era, prompts Armand and Deborah to leave Haiti for New York to join their sisters who left some years back.

The bulk of the novel deals with the Etienne siblings assimilation in America, and Armand’s chaotic love life. After getting a huge chunk of the educational part of the American Dream, Armand marries Monica. This relationship is frowned upon by Armand’s entourage even before it makes it to the altar, but Armand doesn’t listen to anyone admonishments, not even partially.

From this point The Gift of Misfortune becomes a melodrama, but not a melodrama without substance. The central theme of it all is how immigrants often adopt new customs not their own, that can lead to their unraveling.

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