Lavil: Life, Love, and Death in Port-Au-Prince

About the Book

Years after the deadliest earthquake in the history of the Western Hemisphere struck Haiti, the island nation remains in crisis, all but ignored by the international community. At the center of this crisis is Lavil—“The City” in Kreyol, as Port-au-Prince is known to Haitians—the cultural, political, and economic capital of Haiti and home to over 2.5 million resilient souls.

This immersive and engrossing oral history collection illustrates the continuing struggle of Haitian people to live, love, and prosper while trying to rebuild their city and country after disasters both natural and man-made.

Narrators Include:

JUSLENE, who moved to Port-au-Prince as a child for educational opportunities but was instead forced to work as a restavek (an unpaid servant). She maintains unwavering hope despite the loss of her family when the city was destroyed.

JOHNNY & DENIS, a teacher and his younger brother, who spent years hustling for work and looking out for each other in one of the city’s sprawling post-earthquake tent camps.

LAMOTHE, an expert of Haiti’s clean water crisis, who is one of the many Port-au-Prince citizens dedicated to rebuilding his city and nation.

About the Editors & Foreword Author:

Peter Orner is the author of two novels (Love and Shame and Love and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo), two short story collections (Esther Stories and Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge), and editor of two books of non-fiction/oral history (Underground America and Hope Deferred). He is co-host of a radio program on KWMR/ Point Reyes, CA called Casual Footsteps with John McCrea and co-owner of a bookstore called the Book Exchange.

Evan Lyon is a physician who has worked on health and human rights in Haiti since 1997 with Partners In Health / Zanmi Lasante and other Haitian organizations and is currently Chief Medical Officer the Heartland Alliance, a Chicago-based NGO.

Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and came to the United States when she was twelve years old. She graduated from Barnard College and received an M.F.A. from Brown University. She made an auspicious debut with her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, and followed it with the story collection Krik? Krak!, whose National Book Award nomination made Danticat the youngest nominee ever.

A book about choosing to live and not to die, to fight, to survive, to thrive.

Edwidge Danticat, AUTHOR

Related Resources

View the Lesson Plans
The lessons use oral history to promote a nuanced understanding of life in Haiti years after the deadly earthquake.
Book Club Discussion Questions
Use these questions to encourage meaningful conversations about the book.
Read Excerpts
Read excerpts from the foreword and two oral histories in Salon.

Media Coverage