The Emperor

(The French List)

A tragicomic novel that explores deep-seated tensions and social violence in Haiti.

After committing an irreparable crime, the narrator of The Emperor waits in his bedroom for the police to arrest him. His past reverberates inside of him like a drum: his youth spent in captivity as a zonbi, under the control of a charlatan Vodou leader, and many an alienating dawn delivering the daily newspaper through the cutthroat neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He now has blood on his hands because of the woman on the bus—the only woman he had ever loved.

Part crime fiction, part fable gone awry, The Emperor invites readers to follow the narrator’s life as he moves from the Haitian countryside to the sprawling city, learning about the corruptible nature of power in his quest for freedom. Along the way, Makenzy Orcel blends the marvelous with the real by introducing readers to an unforgettable cast of characters including the Very Old Sheep, a deceitful Emperor, and the narrator’s so-called Enlightened Colleague. Written with Orcel’s distinctive verve, this novel offers readers a story set in contemporary Haiti that is rich in poetry and full of narrative intrigue.

Makenzy Orcel is an award-winning novelist and poet and a Chevalier des arts et des lettres of the French Republic. He is the author of The Immortals and A Human Burden

Nathan H. Dize is a translator, assistant professor of French in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in Saint Louis, and a scholar of French Caribbean literature.