APOL was in Haiti this week, ostensibly to explore options for a Creole language edition of A Person of Letters—but it walked away from the deal when its local agent suggested that a “courtesy gift” to a certain official, in unmarked bills in a nondescript briefcase, would ensure a speedy release. Haiti is ranked 161 of 177 countries on Transparency International’s corruption index. It is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and corruption is a national blight.
It is but one of the country’s burdens. Nature has been cruel to Haiti, and humanity unkind. The economy was shattered and tens of thousands of Haitians were killed in a devastating 2010 earthquake that left hundreds of thousands homeless. It has been a huge challenge for the government to house, let alone help, the survivors. In 2013 an effort was made to relocate some of the homeless to Jalousie, a shantytown of cinderblock homes on a mountainside overlooking the wealthy Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville. In an effort to beautify Jalousie, homes were painted in bright rainbow colours. While the initiative created a striking visual impression, and was pleasant to look at from Petionville, it did little to house the homeless. Haiti’s difficult recovery continues, straining the country’s resources and institutions, which were inadequate to address the diverse needs of a growing population before the earthquake…
In the immediate wake of the disaster, help came to Haiti from around the world. The relief effort has been much criticized, and there has been significant corruption associated with it, but tremendous work was performed by countless people, to ameliorate suffering and begin rebuilding a shattered country—and not all of it by on-the-ground relief workers.
One small example among many: Rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars, fronted by Jared Leto, raised $100,000 for Haitian relief via charity auction.
APOL has become intrigued with Thirty Seconds to Mars, after learning that the band’s subsequent tour, which ran from February 2010 to December 2011, holds the Guinness record for longest concert tour by a rock band (309 concerts). APOL immediately set itself the goal of establishing the Guinness record for the longest book tour without an author. (“Knock yourself out,” grumbled APOL’s anthropophobic author.)
Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which has gone on tour without me (with a post-modernist wink and nod to magical realism). Follow APOL’s quixotic world tour here or on my Facebook Author Page, and read about all of APOL’s (mis)adventures in sequence on this tour archive. For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.