In a conversation with Laurence Garcia for France Inter (a French public radio channel) in May this year, Lyonel Trouillot spoke about his relation to writing and politics, as a writer and teacher living and working in contemporary Haiti.1 In a voice at once personal and critical, reflective yet poignant, Trouillot offered a picture of his writing conceived as a mode of bearing witness (témoigner) to the protracted suffering and injustice in Haiti—the mal-vivre or malaise that is a pervasive dimension of the everyday lived experience of ordinary people around him. Part of what was so searching in what Trouillot had to say was the way he spoke of the paradoxical relation between the fictive and the real in his writing. Realism and modernism—in his brand of experimental formalism—were not incompatible dimensions of comprehension and literary expression. To the contrary:...

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