—Amy Wilentz, author of The Rainy Season
Read alsoSoldier's Joy
Two Southern soldiers, recently back from Vietnam, struggle to resume their lives amid dangerous and deep-rooted prejudice Thomas Laidlaw returns home from Vietnam with nothing much in mind but to tend his acreage, live apart, and get lost in the roots music he grew up with. Laidlaw’s childhood friend Rodney…
Soul in a Bottle, drawn from Bell’s journals of the period and from assignments he completed for The New Yorker and Harper’s among others, is a record of that extraordinary journey.Bell’s fascination with Haiti and his passion for the Haitian people brings his great writing skill to a laser-bright focus.For the past couple of decades, travelers to Haiti have used his novels of the Haitian Revolution as guides to the history and the culture of the country.In that sense, Soul in a Bottle is still more valuable reading, for those who are going to Haiti in flesh and bone and for those who want to take an imaginary journey there.
Alors que certains étrangers prétendent après quelques jours ici être des « experts » sur Haïti, il est rafraîchissant et enrichissant de lire ces pages où Madison Smartt Bell quia pris le temps de s’initier aux éléments basiques de la culture haïtienne, parle d’Haïti avec tant d’humilité et de respect.
(translation: At a time when some foreigners pose as experts on Haiti after a just a few days here, it is refreshing and enriching to read these pages where Madison Smartt Bell, who has taken the time to initiate himself in the basic elements of Haitian culture, speaks of Haiti with such humility and respect.)
—Evelyne Trouillot, author of Rosalie L’Infame
In Soul in a Bottle Madison Smartt Bell takes us through a mirror to view Haiti from another side… By itself it is the story of a seeker after wisdom encountering Haiti, Haitians, and their ancient religion, Vodou, rather than as one on a preconceived mission to “do good” by helping Haitians to be more like us. He discovers and reveals to his readers a deeper realization of our human condition as rooted in the earth and bound to all that is visible and invisible in the cosmos. Thus he shows Haiti to be a place and a people of spiritual sophistication with much to teach us all.
—LeGrace Benson, author of Arts and Religions of Haiti