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Fiction Literary

The Return

by (author) Dany Laferrière

translated by David Homel

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Aug 2011
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2011
    List Price

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From the Prix Medicis winner comes a haunting meditation on the nature of identity.


Dany Laferriere's most celebrated book since How to Make Love to a Negro, The Return is a bestseller in France and Quebec and the winner of many awards, including the prestigious Prix Medicis and the Grand Prix du livre de Montreal.


At age 23, the narrator, Dany, hurriedly left behind the stifling heat of Port-au-Prince for the unending winter of Montreal. It was 1976, and Baby Doc Duvalier's regime had just killed one of his journalist colleagues. Thirty-three years later, a telephone call informs Dany of his father's death in New York. Windsor Laferriere had fled Haiti in the 1960s, fearing persecution for his political activities. After the funeral, Dany plans to return his father to Baraderes, the village in Haiti where he was born. It is not the body he will take, but the spirit.


How does one return from exile? In acutely observed details, Dany reveals his affection for his father and for the land of his birth. Translated by two-time Governor General's Award-winner David Homel, The Return blends the gritty reality of daily life with the lush sensuality and ecstatic mystery that underlie Haitian culture. It is the novel of a great writer.


Longlisted for the 2012 International Impac Dublin Literary Award

About the authors

Dany Laferriere was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1953. He is the author of fourteen novels, including I am a Japanese Writer, Heading South, and the award-winning How to Make Love to a Negro without Getting Tired. Laferriere is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Prix Carbet des Lyceens and the Prix Medicis in France, and the Governor General's Literary Award in Canada. In 2013, he become the first Quebecer and the first Haitian to be elected to the prestigious Academie francaise as an "immortal," joining the ranks of such literary greats as Victor Hugo and Eugene Ionesco. He lives in Montreal.

Dany Laferrière's profile page

David Homel was born in Chicago in 1952 and left that city in 1970 for Paris, living in Europe the next few years on odd jobs and odder couches. He has published eight novels, from Electrical Storms in 1988 to The Teardown, which won the Paragraph Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction in 2019. He has also written young adult fiction with Marie-Louise Gay, directed documentary films, worked in TV production, been a literary translator, journalist, and creative writing teacher. He has translated four books for Linda Leith Publishing: Bitter Roase (2015), (2016), Nan Goldin: The Warrior Medusa (2017) and Taximan (2018). Lunging into the Underbrush is his first book of non-fiction. He lives in Montreal.

David Homel's profile page


  • Long-listed, International Impac Dublin Literary Award
  • Long-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize

Editorial Reviews

"Someone once told me there are only two real stories: someone leaves home, and a stranger comes to town. This tale considers both of these real stories and offers insights into the father-son relationship and the question of home and exile. Laferriere's keen eye and bared heart stayed with me long after I finished his beautiful elegy."

Waterloo Region Record

"A stunning and breathtaking book. By far among the best by this extraordinarily talented writer, who so deeply and miraculously touches our hearts, minds, and funny bone all at the same time."

Edwidge Danticat, author of "Breath, Eyes, Memory"

"The Return masterfully reconnects the past and present with the harsh realities of life and death...It is a book that will touch your heart and demand to be read more than once."

Toronto Quarterly

"[Laferriere's] prose has always had the ability to wrap itself around the reader's organs and take hold, slowly at first, before becoming a part of the body. This novel is no different, digging deep through a minefield of emotional and physical detail with compassionate honesty...a stunning and breathtaking book, and is easily one of his best."

Rob McLennan

"The Return is, as its French title explicitly states, enigmatic, a powerful, wrenching book that is not easily explained or understood...The Return is, as [Chantal Guy] concludes, 'a book to savour...that demands more than one reading.'"

Globe & Mail

"The Return is like a whole life that suddenly explodes as a Big Bang, libertaing the past and the present, dreams and reality, North and South, hot and cold, life and death, exile and return, those who stay and those who go...It is a book to savor, a long poem that demans more than one reading."

La Presse

"...Half prose, half poetry, The Return is a finely crafted autobiographical account of the author�s voyage back to his place of birth...The Return is replete with thought-provoking observations about the human condition, from the dynamics and cyclical nature of power in Haiti to the preoccupation with hunger and finding one's next meal. Laferriere's writing is poetic, profound and beautiful...A single reading of this novel will yield its beauty and thoughtfulness, but to fully appreciate it warrants a second reading. For anyone who has lost a parent, this is a must-read."

Rover Arts

"Laferriere's book is a purposeful contemplation on the concept of exile and father/son relations, and of course the search for identity...What makes The Return so captivating is the use of language when he describes Montreal and Haiti, the differences and the similarities. His feelings of alienation for each geography changes with what he sees. How could it not?"


"It's a richly haunting novel, with prose melting into poetry."

Uptown Magazine

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