New English translation of Haitian novel

Three years ago, in January 2010, Haiti was struck by an earthquake. The Translators’ House Wales Challenge that year selected an extract from Yanick Lahens’s La folie était venue avec la pluie for translation into English and Welsh. We were looking for someone who could bring the atmosphere of the original, written by Yanick in French, into one of these two languages. The selection of this story was an acknowledgement of the tragedy in Haiti but the novel, written before that time, reminded us that Haiti is much more than the sum of its very recent past. 

With the aid of Oxfam Cymru, an event was organised at the Hay Festival. Yanick couldn’t attend because she was not granted a visa, but the Challenge was launched. Alison Layland wrote the winning English translation and was then commissioned to translate another of Yanick Lahens’s novels in its entirety for Wales-based publisher Seren.

Colour of Dawn, the English translation of La Couleur de L’Aube, will be published in April. To find out more about this period in the author’s life, read Yanick Lahens’s thoughtful piece for the current issue of Words Without Borders. In some – not insignificant – way, Wales’s literary path is now linked to that moment in Haiti’s history. 

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