Dancing in the Baron's Shadow
Fabienne Josaphat
(Unnamed Press: February 09, 2016)

Haiti, 1965. Nicolas, a bourgeois socialist is sent to the notorious Fort Dimanche prison by dictator Papa Doc's militia, and his brother Raymond must try to save him.
Haiti, 1965. Francois Duvalier, often called Papa Doc or Baron Samedi, is a brutal dictator using extreme violence to control the impoverished island nation. Unrelenting curfews are imposed on the people of Port-au-Prince and the ever-present bogeymen, Tonton Macoutes militia, have scared away even the bravest of tourists. 

For taxi driver Raymond L'Eveillé, life under these conditions is becoming increasingly untenable. Unable to properly feed his wife and young children, or pay the rent on time, Raymond's family is on the brink of destitution. By contrast, Raymond's brother Nicolas is a wealthy professor at the local university. A believer in law and justice, Nicolas is secretly writing a socialist manifesto, in an attempt to rally support for those that oppose Papa Doc's harsh dictatorship. 

When Nicolas' home is searched as a result of his liberal lectures, the violent and unfeeling Tonton Macoutes quickly arrest him and send him to Fort Dimanche, an over-filled, disease-ridden prison that few survive. Meanwhile, Raymond comes home to find his wife has left with their children, hoping to build a better life for her starving family abroad. 

With his family gone, and as Nicolas' colleagues continue to disappear, Raymond plunges into a daring scheme to save his brother. In order to gain access to the dreaded Fort Dimanche, the cab driver does something few Haitians would ever dream of doing: he gets himself arrested. Once inside, and with the help of a small gang of resistance fighters and a sympathetic prison guard, the two men will attempt a death-defying prison break. But first, they will both have to survive life in Fort Dimanche. The harrowing experience shared by the two brothers is brutal, heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant.

Josaphat's electric prose brings to life a horrifying and not so distant time in Haiti's past while exploring the best and worst of humanity. The novel examines power's tendency to corrupt, the impulse of nationalistic pride, and above all, the human desire to survive, while describing in rigorous detail the shocking realities of life in the Baron's shadow.

About the Author:  Fabienne Josaphat recently received her Masters in Creative Writing from Florida International University's MFA program, studying with John Dufresne and Les Standiford. Dancing in the Baron’s Shadow is a work of literary historical fiction that started out as a screenplay for Fabienne’s thesis. Her publications have appeared in literary journals and magazines including the “Caribbean Writer,”  “Mandala Journal,”  “Small Axe Literary Salon” and most recently, her short story, “Her Dream of Water”, was selected as part of the top ten for The Masters' Review 2012. In the style of Khaled Hosseini and Adam Johnson, Fabienne brings to light the horrors of the Duvalier regime while bringing a certain beauty and hope to the story as well. Fabienne lives in Miami and this is her first novel.