Book Discovery: My Mother's House: A novel by Francesca Momplaisir
" A shockingly original exploration of class, race, and systemic violence . . . This house, tainted by the human evil it contains, is reminiscent of the opening line of Toni Morrison's Beloved. And, like Morrison, Momplaisir uses the tropes of fantasy to try to assert truths that ordinary language and realistic imagery cannot communicate . . . Momplaisir's debut introduces her as an author to watch. "
About the Book
For fans of Edwidge Danticat, Mehsin Hamid, Kate Atkinson, and Jesmyn Ward: a literary thriller about the complex underbelly of the immigrant American dream and the dangerous ripple effect one person's damages can have on the lives of others--told unexpectedly by a house that has held unspeakable horrors.
When Lucien flees Haiti with his wife, Marie-Ange, and their three children to New York City's South Ozone Park, he does so hoping for reinvention, wealth, and comfort. He buys a rundown house in a community that is quickly changing from an Italian enclave of mobsters to a haven for Haitian immigrants, and begins life anew. Lucien and Marie-Ange call their home La Kay — "my mother's house"— and it becomes a place where their fellow immigrants can find peace, a good meal, and legal help.
But as a severely emotionally damaged man emigrating from a country whose evils he knows to one whose evils he doesn't, Lucien soon falls into his worst habits and impulses, with La Kay as the backdrop for his lasciviousness. What he can't even begin to fathom is that the house is watching, passing judgment, and deciding to put an end to all the sins it has been made to hold. But only after it has set itself aflame will frightened whispers reveal Lucien's ultimate evil.
At once an uncompromising look at the immigrant experience and an electrifying page-turner, My Mother's House is a singular, unforgettable achievement.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“ [My Mother's House] examines the depths of depravity from three perspectives, including a house's . . . This is the America of opportunity, with one wave of immigrants replacing another as they climb higher on the ladder of success, but Momplaisir skillfully reveals why this ladder is missing a few rungs . . . A needed contribution to this difficult conversation. ”
—Stephanie Powell Watts, The New York Times Book Review
“ A haunting story of the (Haitian American) immigrant experience amid toxic male dominance — My Mother’s House is unsettling and unlike anything else you will read.”
—Karin Slaughter, New York Times and International Bestselling Author
“ Francesca Momplaisir’s storytelling is lush, dynamic and captivating, with a sharp eye for details and an honest uncompromising depiction of human visciousness as well as beauty. My Mother’s House is an absolutely gripping read! ” —Sahar Delijani, author of Children of the Jacaranda Tree
“ You need to read My Mother’s House. I loved it. From the amazing opening chapter to the end, the book is original, exciting, and beautifully written. Francesca Momplaisir is incredible.” —Edward Kelsey Moore, author of The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues
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FRANCESCA MOMPLAISIR is a Haitian-born multilingual literature scholar and writer of fiction and poetry in both English and her native Haitian Kreyol. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, the University of Oxford, and New York University. She earned a Doctorate in African and African diaspora literature as an NYU MacCracken fellow under her supervisor and mentor, Ngugi wa Thiong'o. She is a recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to travel to Ghana to research the cultural retention and memory of the transatlantic slave trade. She lives in the New York City metro area.