Hopscotch Translation Series: Frankétienne & Asselin Charles in convo w/ A. Véronique Charles

Please join us for the 7th installment of our
Hopscotch Translation Series


in conversation with translator ASSELIN CHARLES
& special guest A. VÉRONIQUE CHARLES!


DÉZAFI is no ordinary zombie novel. In the hands of the great Haitian author known simply as Frankétienne, zombification takes on a symbolic dimension that stands as a potent commentary on a country haunted by a history of slavery. Now this dynamic new translation brings this touchstone in Haitian literature to English-language readers for the first time.

Written in a provocative experimental style, with a myriad of voices and combining myth, poetry, allegory, magical realism, and social realism, Dézafi tells the tale of a plantation that is run and worked by zombies for the financial benefit of the living owner. The owner's daughter falls in love with the zombie overseer and facilitates his transformation back into fully human form, leading to a rebellion that challenges the oppressive imbalance that had robbed the workers of their spirit. With the walking dead and bloody cockfights (the "dézafi" of the title) as cultural metaphors for Haitian existence, Frankétienne’s novel is ultimately a powerful allegory of political and social liberation.

FRANKÉTIENNE (born Franck Étienne on April 12, 1936 in Ravine-Sèche, Haiti) is a prolific writer, poet, playwright, painter, musician, activist, intellectual, and "spiraliste." Considered by many to be the ‘father of Haitian letters,’ Frankétienne writes in both French and Haitian Creole (often juggling the two) and his paintings have been exhibited internationally. An outspoken challenger of political oppression, Frankétienne was a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009 and, in 2010, was named a Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Dr. ASSELIN CHARLES is a specialist of the novel in Africa, African America, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and has taught at various institutions of higher education in several countries. His research focuses on the parallels and intersections in Black Atlantic literatures, particularly in Harlem Renaissance writings and in the Francophone, Creolophone, and Anglophone literatures of the Caribbean. In addition, he has published a number of celebrated translations, including the first English translation of Anténor Firmin’s masterwork, De l’Égalité des races humaines (The Equality of the Human Races), and an English translation of René Depestre’s famous collection of short stories, Alléluia pour une femme-jardin (
Alleluia for a Garden Woman).

A. VÉRONIQUE CHARLES, doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, conducts research on contemporary literature and archival documents that elucidate the complexities surrounding the Atlantic slave economy in precolonial Africa. She currently teaches a seminar on the zombie figure in literature, scholarship and popular media.
This event was made possible by the generous support of
the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania!

Event date: 
Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Event address: 
Penn Book Center
130 S. 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Dézafi (Caraf Books: Caribbean and African Literature Translated fro) Cover Image
By Franketienne, Asselin Charles (Translator)
ISBN: 9780813941394
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Virginia Press - October 30th, 2018

Ready to Burst Cover Image
By Franketienne, Kaiama L. Glover (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781935744788
Availability: Special Order
Published: Archipelago - October 14th, 2014