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[book cover] Rocks in the Water, Rocks in the Sun

Vilmond Joegodson Déralciné and Paul Jackson

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March 2015

9781771990110 (Paperback)
9781771990127 (PDF)
9781771990134 (ePub)


Our Lives: Diary, Memoir, and Letters

Biography & Memoir / Political & International Studies



About the Book

When Joegodson Déralciné was still a small child, his parents left rural Haiti to resettle in the rapidly growing zones of Port-au-Prince. As his family entered the city in 1986, Duvalier and his dictatorship exited. Haitians, once terrorized under Duvalier’s reign, were liberated and emboldened to believe that they could take control of their lives. But how? Joining hundreds of thousands of other peasants trying to adjust to urban life, Joegodson and his family sought work and a means of survival. But all they found was low-waged assembly plant jobs of the sort to which the repressive Duvalier regime had opened Haiti’s doors—the combination of flexible capital and cheap labour too attractive to multinational manufacturers to be overlooked. With the death of his mother, Joegodson was placed in his uncle’s care, and so began a childhood of starvation, endless labour, and abuse.

In honest, reflective prose, Joegodson—now a father himself— allows us to walk in the ditches of Cité Soleil, to hide from the macoutes under the bed, to feel the ache of an empty stomach. But, most importantly, he provides an account of life in Haiti from a perspective that is rarely heard. Free of sentimentality and hackneyed clichés, his narrative explores the spirituality of Vodou, Catholicism, and Protestantism, describes the harrowing day of the 2010 earthquake and its aftermath, and illustrates the inner workings of MINUSTAH. Written with Canadian historian Paul Jackson—Joegodson telling his story in Creole, Jackson translating, the two of them then reviewing and reworking—the memoir is a true collaboration, the struggle of two people from different lands and vastly different circumstances to arrive at a place of mutual understanding. In the process, they have given us an unforgettable account of a country determined to survive, and on its own terms.

“A beautifully-executed first-hand account that provides a poignant and engaging portrait of how Haiti's working class people—peasants, workers, and unemployed—survive under incredibly difficult circumstances. Both entertaining and edifying, Joegodson presents his story unsentimentally and sincerely with many perceptive, nuanced, and eloquent observations about society and life, which, through their simplicity and frankness, are often as illuminating as those of any journalist or philosopher.”—Kim Ives, Ha?ti Liberté


About the Authors

Vilmond Joegodson Déralciné is a furniture maker and writer who lives in Canaan, Haiti.

Paul Jackson earned his PhD in history from Queen's University. His published work includes One of the Boys (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2004).



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Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). It may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided that the original author is credited.


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DownloadFront Matter

DownloadTable of Contents



DownloadRocks in the Water, Rocks in the Sun
A Memoir from the Heart of Haiti
Vilmond Joegodson Déralciné

An Essay on Haitian Politics and History
Paul Jackson

DownloadGlossary of Haitian Terms

DownloadPawol Granmoun / Haitian Sayings



"This book […] takes the reader places that he or she will not otherwise get to go and it deserves a spot on the shelf of worth-reading books about Haiti. If you are really interested in understanding Haiti today and the struggles and perspectives of the poor, this is one of the only books where you're really going to learn about that. The book is authentic and it's unique."

—Timothy T. Schwartz, anthropologist