Saturday, October 4, 2008

Massacre River by Rene Philoctete

Massacre River by Rene Philoctete is a stream of consciousness novel about the repression and dictatorship of life in the Dominican Republic during the reign of Trujillo, and the massacre of Haitian workers and families on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The book centers around the lives of Pedro Brito, a labor worker organizer and his wife Adele. It showcases the banality of torture and death, how the common people attempting to live their lives were constantly exposed to humiliation and death, never knowing exactly what would cause their tormentors to kill them.
The contrast between the lyrical language and the depressing topic constantly jars the reader, drawing them along the path of the story even as they resist. While this book evokes emotions, I can't say I enjoyed reading it. One reason was that I had just recently finished The Brief Wonderous Life Of Oscar Wao, which also takes the Dominican Republic and the events of Trujillo's reign as its focus. This book was just too soon after that one.

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