Strangers in Port-au-Prince are united in the corruption, fear, and revolt of Duvalier-era Haiti in “the most interesting novel of [Greene’s] career” (The Nation).
Haiti, under the rule of Papa Doc and his menacing paramilitary, the Tontons Macoute, has long been abandoned by tourists. Now it is home to corrupt capitalists, foreign ambassadors and their lonely wives—and a small group of enterprising strangers rocking into port on the Dutch cargo ship, Medea: a well-meaning pair of Americans claiming to bring vegetarianism to the natives; a former jungle fighter in World War II Burma and current confidence man; and an English hotelier returning home to the Trianon, an unsalable shell of an establishment on the hills above the capital. Each is embroiled in a charade. But when they’re unsuspectingly bound together in this nightmare republic of squalid poverty, torrid love affairs, and impending violence, their masks will be stripped away.
“While Mr. Greene . . . specialized in chronicling the moral and political murkiness he encountered in the third world . . . nowhere did he produce a more topical or damning work of fiction than [in The Comedians]” (The New York Times). Banned in Haiti, and condemned by Papa Doc Duvalier, it was adapted by Greene into a 1967 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
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An absolute masterpiece
In the 1960s, Greene depicted Haiti so perfectly that it’s still the same 50 years later. Brilliant!