Sorry for not writing more. I've been a bit down in the dumps about the oil spill and its effects on everyone. Now that it's spread to Florida, maybe something will be done. The white, sandy beaches are more exciting than the boring marshes.
I spent on delightful Friday evening (May 14th), listening to Isabel Allende reading from her latest novel, Island Beneath the Sea. And, I wasn’t the only one; there must have been about 300 to 400 people at the reading, which was held at a Catholic school auditorium. The most amazing thing to me was that everyone was able to find parking; a large synagogue was having Friday services, and both locations are in an older part of town, where off-street parking is hard to find.
Allende came a bit late and was tired; her flight from Dallas was delayed, and New Orleans was the last city in a multi-city book tour. But, when she started to talk about her latest novel and how she came to write it, her energy level went higher.
Allende came to New Orleans to do research for a previous novel, Zorro. She ran across information about the Haitian Slave Revolt and migration of Haitians to Cuba and later to New Orleans.
Her characters a New Orleans that was a major slave trading center. Free people of color existed at this time, and some of them also had slaves.
Zarite’, the main character, is of mixed races. She is sold as a child and suffers a lot. She travels from Haiti, Cuba, and New Orleans, while trying to get her freedom.
Allende explained that through this novel, she wants her readers to be aware that slavery still goes on today in all over the world, even in the US. Child laborers and sweat-shop workers are some examples. She also wants to bring awareness to her foundation, which helps to empower women.
If you think that such events really didn’t take place, then you need to read this essay by Dr. Rebecca Scott, whom I met in my previous job.
She is writing a non-fiction book about Rosalie, who traveled the same route as Zarite’. Dr. Scott went to archives in Haiti, Cuba (before all the hurricanes and earthquakes hit those islands), and New Orleans and was able to piece together Rosalie‘s life, through the legal documents that Rosalie filed.