Lost in translation? Gender, power, and taste in Dany Laferrière's le Goût des jeunes filles

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The translation of Dany Laferrière's Le Goût des jeunes filles (The Taste of Young Girls) into the English title, Dining with the Dictator, represents a curious movement toward a far more palatable (re)vision of power distribution in Haiti. The addition of the word "dictator" in the English title explicitly situates the dinner guests in a less empowered position. The cunning linguistic playfulness and agency implicit in the phrase le goût (or "the taste"), in the French title, is evicted from the "young girls" and bestowed upon the dictator. Moreover, the revisionary approach displayed in the title change, extends to the conclusion of the novel as well. As with the French title, the dedication also suggests that for the author (and possibly the narrator?), the women are the center of the narrative. However, in light of this proclamation, the conspicuous absence of two concluding segments that focus on the two generations of women in the novel left me very puzzled. I only became aware of the exclusions when Dany Laferrière brought it to my attention during the Haiti in a Globalized Frame conference. We hope that this translation will bring another layer of critical engagement to discourses of gender, sexuality, and power in Caribbean literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-357
Number of pages12
JournalContemporary French and Francophone Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 27 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Cultural Studies


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