Orange Alert

Haitian Author, Artist Frankétienne to Visit Campus March 25-26

'Father of Haitian letters' will present lectures, readings, film screening, art exhibition

March 14, 2019, by Robert M Enslin


Frankétienne, one of Haiti's greatest living writers and artists, will visit Syracuse University, March 25-26.

The author of more than 40 books in Haitian and French, he is a Nobel Prize candidate, a commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, and a UNESCO Artist for Peace.

Frankétienne will headline multiple lectures, readings and book signings, as well as a film screening and an art exhibition. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Jean Jonassaint, professor of French and Francophone studies in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics (LLL) in A&S, at 315.443.5382 or

“[Frankétienne] is not only a major Haitian writer, but he is probably the Haitian writer,” Jonassaint told The New York Times, which has dubbed Frankétienne the "father of Haitian literature." 

He will focus part of his visit on “Dézafi” (1975), his first novel in Haitian Creole, inspired by living under brutal Duvalier rule in the 1950s and ‘60s. Last year, The University of Virginia Press published an English translation of the novel by Asselin Charles, with an afterward by Jonassaint. 

The schedule is as follows:

Monday, March 25

  • A Q&A with Frankétienne about “Dézafi” from 2:15-3:35 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons (114 Bird Library). The session is part of "Translingual Francophone Authors" (FRE 400/600), taught by Genevieve Waite, assistant teaching professor and French language coordinator in LLL. 

  • A discussion about the challenges of writing and translating "Dézafi" with Frankétienne and Charles, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Graham Scholarly Commons. Booksigning to follow. 

Tuesday, March 26

  • A reading of "Dézafi" by Frankétienne and Charles in French and English, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Community Folk Art Center (CFAC) at 805 East Genesee St., Syracuse. The program includes a light lunch and booksigning; reservations are required. RSVP at by March 20.

  • A screening of and talkback with Frankétienne about “Une étrange cathédrale dans la graisse des ténèbres” (“A Strange Cathedral in the Fat of Darkness”), a documentary about the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, from 2:30-4:15 p.m. in the CFAC Blackbox Theater. Panelists include Charles; Jonassaint; and Nicole Wallenbrock, a visiting assistant teaching professor of French and Francophone Studies in LLL.

The University of Virginia Press, 2018
The University of Virginia Press, 2018

From March 20-26, the CFAC Art Gallery will show eight of Frankétienne paintings, and the first floor of Bird Library will display some of his books, manuscripts and other materials. 

Frankétienne's visit is organized by Jonassaint in collaboration with the Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College and The University of Virginia Press.

Additional support comes from the Albert George Memorial Lecture Fund (A&S); the College of Arts and Sciences; CFAC; the Department of African American Studies (AAS); the Department of Art and Music Histories (A&S); the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics (A&S); the Department of English (A&S); the Syracuse University Humanities Center (A&S); the Program on Latin America and the Caribbean (Maxwell School); the Syracuse University Bookstore; and Syracuse University Libraries.


Jean Jonassaint Professor, French and Francophone Studies

Media Contact

Robert M Enslin