Savage Seasons

Written by Kettly Mars; Jeanine Herman (translator)
Written by Kettly Mars
Translated by Jeanine Herman

University of Nebraska Press, July 2015

Port-au-Prince, the 1960s: Duvalier and his militia are systematically eliminating opponents to the regime. Daniel Leroy, editor in chief of the opposition newspaper, has just been arrested. To find out what has become of him, his wife, Nirvah, visits Raoul Vincent, secretary of state at the Office of Public Safety. This fearsome head of the secret police is instantly smitten, and to ensure her husband’s survival and protect her family, Nirvah submits to the official’s desires. Becoming the mistress of a strongman in the regime is not without its benefits. Still, she has to endure her neighbors’ inquisitive looks and the silent questions of her own children.

Kettly Mars’s Savage Seasons describes a pivotal and painful period in Haitian history by weaving together two stories: the personal story of Nirvah and her family and the universal story of Duvalier’s dictatorial regime and its abuses.

About The Authors

Kettly Mars was born in 1958 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she resides today. She is the author of three novels and two story collections.

Jeanine Herman has translated the works of numerous authors, including Julia Kristeva and Eric Laurrent. She is a Chevalier in the French Order of Arts and Letters.

Praise for Savage Seasons

“The principal merit of Kettly Mars’s novel Savage Seasons is in making us feel a dictatorship’s intimate grip on its subjects. . . . Savage Seasons is a novel about the widespread abandonment of freedom by a society that has become macoute, where dictatorship leads to collective, accepted madness.”
— Christian Tortel, Le Monde

“A breathless novel that combines fiction and reality with both dexterity and pugnacity.”

“A fine feminist and political novel that plunges into a country where ‘nobody dies a natural death.’ As she reveals the mechanisms of this totalitarian regime, Kettly Mars confirms the energy of Haitian literature, which includes, besides Dany Laferrière or Lyonel Trouillot, remarkable women as well.”
Le Nouvel Observateur


Winner of the French Voices Award

This work, published as part of a program of aid for publication, received support from the Institut Français.


This work, published as part of a program providing publication assistance, received financial support from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, and FACE (French American Cultural Exchange).

Publication of this book was assisted by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


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