‘chronique De La Dérive Douce’ By Dany Lafferière

Reading is undoubtedly a crucial aspect of learning a foreign language when it comes to expanding vocabulary, but being able to read increasingly difficult books is also something many people aspire to when they first start to learn a new language. Books, whether fictional or not, allow us to gain a wider understanding of culture and history of the countries in which a language is spoken. Chronique de la dérive douce is an excellent example for this as it offers a rare insight into two places that are divided by their respective societies, history, and climate, yet bound by a common language.

In his novel, Haitian-born author Dany Laferrière recounts the events and experiences of his first year in Montreal after escaping the dictatorial regime in his homeland. The reader follows the protagonist from the moment he arrives at the airport, where he is immediately confronted with a culture that could not be any more different to everything he has known before, through his struggles and achievements. Some of the challenges the author faces, for example finding accommodation or getting lost in a new city, may even be familiar to those of you who moved to France from abroad!

Chronique de la dérive douce is a story of contrast, such as the coldness of the Canadian winter and the Haitian heat, of loneliness and the hardships of being a refugee, but also one of hope and perseverance. Written in a poetic style and divided into 366 parts to represent each day of the leap year during which Lafferière first arrived in Montreal, the book’s central message can be summarised as this: Even the longest literal and metaphorical winter has an end.


Photo of the author Dany Lafferiere