Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings

The moment she steps off the plane, she feels a wall of heat, and familiar sights soon follow the boys selling water ice by the pink cathedral, the tap tap buses in the busy streets, the fog and steep winding road to her aunt’s home in the mountains. The girl has always loved Auntie Luce’s paintings the houses tucked into the hillside, colorful fishing boats by the water, heroes who fought for and won the country’s independence. Through Haiti’s colors, the girl comes to understand this place her family calls home. And when the moment finally comes to have her own portrait painted for the first time, she begins to see herself in a new way, tracing her own history and identity through her aunt’s brush.

Anacaona, Golden Flower, Haiti, 1490

With her signature narrative grace, Edwidge Danticat brings Haiti’s beautiful queen Anacaona to life. Queen Anacaona was the wife of one of her island’s rulers, and a composer of songs and poems, making her popular among her people. Haiti was relatively quiet until the Spanish conquistadors discovered the island and began to settle there in 1492. The Spaniards treated the natives very cruelly, and when the natives revolted, the Spanish governor of Haiti ordered the arrests of several native nobles, including Anacaona, who was eventually captured and executed, to the horror of her people.