Port-au-Prince ~ Haiti
Kettly Mars Haiti Kettly Mars (1958, Port-au-Prince) is a bold and evocative writer who offers fresh insights on contemporary realities and a vibrant, nuanced exposé of Haitian society. Her first published writings were sensual and erotically charged poems highlighting the centrality of nature, the body and sexuality in human lives. The clarity and honesty, with which she approached these sensitive subjects that are circumscribed in many cultures, continue in her concise, atmospheric short stories and in her richly layered novels exploring the multiple, intersections of class, race, gender, spirituality, violence and power relations. Though firmly grounded in Haiti’s particularities, her concerns are universal. Kasale (2003) portrays the spiritual impasses experienced in daily struggles and what it means to be human in increasingly difficult circumstances. L’heure hybride (2005) explores homosexuality, a son’s love for his mother, her work as a prostitute and the pull of contradictory impulses and conflicting inner narratives. Fado (2008) looks unflinchingly at the lives of the poor and marginalised, and the hybrid conditions they have to negotiate, through the experience of a prostitute. Her most recent novel, Saisons sauvages (2010), is an examination of life under the Duvalier regime, the intertwining of power and sexuality, and the human consequences of the social intricacies and survival mechanisms necessary in authoritarian environments. Her characters, who often go against societal norms, raising questions of what is acceptable and why, are seen with a compassionate eye. Currently working on an anthology of Haitian women writers from the 18th century to the present, and an active participant in literary events, Mars has written passionately on the importance of community and solidarity in the post-earthquake context. Kettly Mars is honoured for putting the universality of the human condition at the centre of her work, for sharing the rich complexities of her country’s realities through her writing, for her daring treatment of unconventional subjects, and for giving an important new impulse to Haitian literature.