New Books Network

Jason Herbeck

Architextual Authenticity

Constructing Literature and Literary Identity in the French Caribbean

Liverpool University Press 2017

New Books in ArchitectureNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Caribbean StudiesNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books Network January 23, 2018 Annette Joseph-Gabriel

What do gingerbread houses in Haiti teach us about the construction of identity in the French Caribbean? How do hurricanes and earthquakes reveal the...

What do gingerbread houses in Haiti teach us about the construction of identity in the French Caribbean? How do hurricanes and earthquakes reveal the connections between the tangible built environment and intangible notions of identity? Architextual Authenticity: Constructing Literature and Literary Identity in the French Caribbean (Liverpool University Press, 2017) examines these questions in a rich body of works from Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique. The book proposes two key concepts to aid in our understanding of Caribbean writers’ construction of identity in their literary works. The term “architexture” asks readers to be attentive to the building blocks of the text and the inner workings of literary works that reflect on themselves and reach out beyond their own pages to be in conversation with other writers, other texts, other stories. Authenticity underscores the ever-present specter of the colonial past and the possibilities for drawing on multiple influences (or in Herbeck’s terminology, using multiple building materials) to construct a unique and original Caribbean identity. Drawing on a range of writers including Maryse Conde, Daniel Maximin and Yanick Lahens, this book steps back from a narrow view of the finished edifice and takes in the scaffolding and mortar that holds these narratives together.

Jason Herbeck is Professor of French at Boise State University. His research focuses primarily on evolving narrative forms in twentieth and twenty-first-century French and French-Caribbean literatures, and how these forms relate to expressions and constructions of identity. In addition to many articles and book chapters devoted to the literatures and histories of Haiti, Martinique and Guadeloupe, he has also published widely on Albert Camus and is, since 2009, President of the North American Section of the Societe des Etudes Camusiennes.


Annette Joseph-Gabriel is an Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her forthcoming book, Decolonial Citizenship: Black Women’s Resistance in the Francophone World, examines Caribbean and African women’s literary and political contributions to anti-colonial movements.