Dominican Republic & Haiti: travel books to read before you go

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This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Dominican Republic & Haiti guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

The intrigues of its history and the attractions of Vodou have blessed Haiti with a richer body of travel literature than the DR.

A sobering novel by young Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of Bones takes as its backdrop the horrific slaughter of Haitians by Dominican soldiers in 1937 – excellent reading whichever country you’re visiting.

Danticat’s After the Dance: A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel is a charming and thoughtful meditation on growing up, Haitian history and finally attending Jacmel’s most famous celebration after being banned as child.

Part travelogue, part memoir, The Best Nightmare on Earth by Herbert Gold recounts over 37 years of living in Haiti, from the rise of Papa Doc to the eve of Prosper Avril in 1990. It vividly captures Haiti with the charm and occasionally wearied air that only a deep love affair can produce.

Dead Man in Paradise by JB Mackinnon is an intriguing blend of travelogue, history and reportage with the author, the nephew of a priest murdered decades ago during the Trujillo regime, trying to piece together the stories of the surviving actors in this unsolved crime.

Alan Cambeira’s Azucar! The Story of Sugar is a fascinating novel that portrays the human toll of sugar production in the DR, with much of the information, descriptions and events based on real events.

Ian Thomson’s Bonjour Blanc is one of the most entertaining and well researched travel books written about Haiti. Visiting during the turmoil of the early 1990s, this often hair-raising account offers meticulous historical detail and vivid portraits, making it an essential read.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found on lonelyplanet.com.