Mischa Berlinski


This thoughtful novel, begins in Haiti, two years before the quake, when a group of UN staff, expats and locals coalesce around an American-educated judge and his wife, to make a difference in the upcoming elections. The natural beauty, the economic mess, the interplay of greed, superstition, poverty as seen by the expat novelist narrator provoke hope, despair, humor and pathos, and most of all, questions. A fascinating and beautiful book. '... stories, if not a necessity, are not a luxury either. Only the rich and the lucky can afford to live without stories, for without stories, as every Haitian peasant knows, life is all just things that happen to you, and you are just something that happens in the lives of others... a good story [is] the only realm in our existence where for every "Why?" there exists a commensurate "Because...". Those two words, "why?" and "because," might be the best thing our species has going for it.' p. 371

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