Farewell, Fred Voodoo: Book summary and reviews of Farewell, Fred Voodoo by Amy Wilentz

Farewell, Fred Voodoo

A Letter from Haiti

by Amy Wilentz

Farewell, Fred Voodoo

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Book Summary

A brilliant writer's account of a long, painful, ecstatic - and unreciprocated - affair with a country that has long fascinated the world.

It was no surprise to Amy Wilentz when Haiti emerged from the dust of the 2010 earthquake like a powerful spirit. Her book is about magical transformations. It is filled with raucous characters: human-rights reporters gone awry, movie stars turned into aid workers, musicians running for president, doctors turned into diplomats, a former U.S. president working as a house builder, street boys morphing into rock stars, and voodoo priests running elections.

Wilentz looks back and forward at the country: at its slave plantations, its unthinkable revolutionary history, its kick-up-the-dirt guerrilla movements, its troubled relationship to the U.S., the totalitarian dynasty that ruled for decades, as well as its creative culture, its ancient African traditions and attitudes, and its uncanny resilience.

Like Joan Didion's Salvador and Rory Stewart's The Places in Between, this book vividly portrays the people of a stark place. A foreign correspondent on a simple story becomes, over time and in the pages of this book, a lover of this country, pursuing the heart and soul of this beautiful and confounding place into the darkest and brightest corners.

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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Critics Circle Award, 2014

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. An extraordinarily frank cultural study/memoir that eschews platitudes of both tragedy and hope." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. Tragic, ironic, humorous, scary, and fascinating, the book is a remarkable achievement and a must read for those interested in Caribbean affairs. An overwhelming positive recommendation." - Library Journal

"Readers get a stimulating immersion course in Haiti's culture, history, and political machinations...An unsentimental yet heartfelt journey to a country possessing the power to baffle some, yet beguile others." - Publishers Weekly

"Farewell, Fred Voodoo is written with authority and great affection for Haiti and Haitians and for those who are trying to help them. An informative and wonderful piece of writing, it is a work of considerable artistry, immensely evocative. I read it with pleasure and with mounting gratitude." - Tracy Kidder, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains

"With great storytelling and a wry sense of human comedy, Amy Wilentz explains Haiti - its characters, its romance, and its unique place in world history - and brings it all to life with passion."- Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod and Salt

"Farewell, Fred Voodoo is engrossing and gorgeous and funny, a meticulously reported story of love for a maddening place. Wilentz's writing is so lyrical it's like hearing a song – in this case, the magical, confounding, sad song of Haiti." - Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin

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More Information

Amy Wilentz is the author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier, of Martyrs' Crossing, (a novel) and of I Feel Earthquakes More Often Than They Happen: Coming to California in the Age of Schwarzenegger.  She has won the Whiting Writers Award, the PEN Martha Albrand Non-Fiction Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award; in 1990, she was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She writes for The New Yorker and The Nation and teaches in the Literary Journalism program at U.C. Irvine.

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