To all our reader fans I’d like to say I finished Elsie Augustave’s novel, The Roving Tree, and feel you should all go out and buy it. But, hey, don’t listen to me, see what Essence Magazine told their readers last month. So, while I decided not to write a review, I decided to ask the author (who was at our favorite Asheville bookstore, Malaprop’s) about the use of Folklore in literature. And, being the writer that she is, Elsie wrote a piece for our blog readers entitled, Folklore: A Literary Influence. I’m happy to present this article to you as a supplement to her novel and all other novels that use folklore as a literary influence.
My first literary experience as a young child in Haiti was my exposure to folktales that people told in the evenings when I spent summer vacations in rural Haiti. I would often daydream about the adventures of Bouki and Malice and other characters from the Haitian folktale repertoire, as I waited for people to engage again in the art of story-telling.
What most people perceive as supernatural and magical represent a Haitian perception of life, while it explains a correlation between a collective system of beliefs and cultural attitudes. As I began to spend time among Africans, it became clear to me that folklore also plays a major role in understanding moral values and also reflects their perception of life, spirituality, and mysticism.
Amidst these ethnographic explorations of Haitian identity and folk life, globalization and modernization, I seized the opportunity, within the pages of The Roving Tree, to bring a humane expression of Haitian, American, and African lives.
Elsie Augustave, author of The Roving Tree
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