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A novel about one family wading through the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, from the acclaimed author who has been compared to Toni Morrison “at the height of her power” (Harper’s Bazaar)—a haunting and astonishing story of restoration and disaster, motherhood, and the bonds that carry through generations.
Genevieve, a single mother, flies from New York to Port-au-Prince with her teenage son, Miles. The trip is meant to be an education for fifteen-year-old Miles—a chance to learn about his family’s roots while coming to terms with his father’s departure—but it’s also an excuse for Genevieve to escape the city, where her life is dominated by her failed marriage and the daily pressures of raising Black children in America. For Genevieve, the journey is also a homecoming of sorts: An opportunity to visit the island she remembers from childhood and reconnect with family. But when the country is rocked by a massive earthquake—decimating the city and putting their lives at risk—their visit becomes a nightmare of survival.
Written before the horrific earthquake that struck Haiti in 2021, The Garden of Broken Things delivers readers beyond the headlines and into the shattered world of a distant family—coming together, forced apart—suddenly brought to the brink.
About the Author
FRANCESCA MOMPLAISIR is the author of My Mother's House. Born in Haiti, she studied at Columbia University, the University of Oxford, and New York University. She earned a doctorate in African and African diaspora literature as an NYU MacCracken fellow under her supervisor and mentor, Ngugi wa Thiong’o. She is a recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to travel to Ghana to research the cultural retention and memory of the transatlantic slave trade. She lives in the New York City metro area.
“Momplaisir captures the soul of her home country with rare intimacy while also examining motherhood, survival, and forgiveness.”
—Juliana Ukiomogbe, Elle Magazine
“Powerful . . . Momplaisir’s luminous prose evokes the heat, smells, colors, and sounds of Port au Prince, lulling readers into believing that all will be well. Then the earth convulses . . . Superlative in her ability to portray the interior lives of mothers and their 24/7 litany of self-recrimination, Momplaisir also tackles themes of racism, immigration, and the lasting effects of colonialism. A notable achievement.”
—Library Journal, starred
“Fast-paced and lyrical . . . The Haiti scenes sizzle with detail . . . Momplaisir has talent . . . this is a moving glimpse into the dynamics of Haitian diasporic culture.”
“This complex tale of motherhood, saturated with guilt and envy, examines the consequences of the past for both those who leave their homes and those who are left behind.”