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Award-winning novel for review- Louis Philippe Dalembert

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In New Novel,
Award-Winning Author Louis-Philippe Dalembert Explores Racist Violence from Multiple Perspectives

Winner of the 2020 French Voices Grand Prize in Fiction for The Mediterranean Wall follows with Milwaukee Blues

Shortlisted for 2021 Prix Goncourt, New Novel Receives Albertine Publishing Grant 

“Superb”—Le Monde

Contacts:  Scott Manning, scott@scottmanningpr.com, 603-491-0995
Abigail Welhouse,
abigail@scottmanningpr.com, 332-203-3423

Digital review copies available via Edelweiss.
Print and digital review copies available on request.
Author available for virtual interviews and events.

“For years, Louis-Philippe Dalembert has searched the margins of history for stories of courage and fearless humanity in the face of persecution,” wrote Nathan H. Dize in a review of Louis-Philippe Dalembert’s last novel, The Mediterranean Wall in Words Without Borders.


With his latest novel, Milwaukee Blues (Schaffner Press, May 2, 2023, $16.95), the acclaimed Haitian-born writer and poet turns his gaze from the immigration crisis in Europe to the tragic consequences of racism on this side of the Atlantic. When published in France in 2021, it was shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt.


In January 2023, the book was awarded a grant from Villa Albertine and The F.A.C.E. Foundation, which supports French-American Cultural Exchange in Education and the Arts.  The grant recognizes the quality of both the original work and the translation.  Milwaukee Blues will therefore become a finalist for the annual Albertine Prize. 


Milwaukee Blues is a unique and all-encompassing fictionalization of real-time events. Dalembert was initially moved by the killing of Eric Garner and with  his emotions further fueled by the George Floyd murder, he synthesizes elements from both cases, creating a new story centered around the killing of his main character, Emmett in one of America’s most segregated cities.  His life story is told by a variety of voices, including the Pakistani shopkeeper who calls 911, his college football coach, a former girlfriend, a teacher, his wife, the police officer, a pair of activists—one Haitian-American and the other a Jewish Rastafarian, and a former prison guard-turned-minister (self-described as a “fisher for souls”) who tries to hold her community together in the face of the tragedy. Together, they form a chorus that provides a more complete, nuanced perspective on the complex character who is Emmett.


Along with the allusion to music in the book’s title, the novel is sprinkled with references to Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, J.B. Lenoir, and the North Carolina Ramblers. In it, Dalembert also draws on his experiences as a trained journalist, a published poet, a Haitian-born immigrant, and a 2013 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee visiting professor, adding a thoughtful and powerful voice to our current discussions about race.


Upon the book’s publication in France, Le Monde called it “Superb.”  Le Figaro weighed in with “his work is not that of a journalist or a commentator. He goes further, much further, to go back to the roots of the evil… Such is the strength of this novel: its depth, its inventiveness, its necessity.”


Milwaukee Blues was translated from the French by Marjolijn de Jager whose translation of Congo, Inc:  Bismarck’s Testament was shortlisted for The Best Translated Book Awards in 2019. This new novel from Dalembert joins the growing list of international works in translation published by Schaffner Press, who also published his award-winning novel, The Mediterranean Wall, also translated by de Jager. The company was listed among the institutions “doing laudable work to improve diversity in the world of translation” by the essayist John Keene in a World Literature Today Q&A.

About the Author

Louis-Philippe Dalembert (born December 8, 1962, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti) is a Haitian poet and novelist, who writes in both French and Haitian creole. His works have been translated into several languages.  He now divides his home between Paris and Port-au-Prince.

He has received several prizes and awards for his work, among them, the Prix Goncourt shortlist 2021, Belgian and Spanish Goncourt Choice 2021 for Milwaukee Blues, the 2020 French Voices Grand Prize in Fiction, a residency at the Villa Medicis in Rome, the Grand Prix de la langue française, Polish and Swiss Goncourt Choice 2019, Goncourt des lycéens shortlist for The Mediterranean Wall, and the Prix Orange du  livre 2017, Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française shortlist and Prix Médicis short list for his novel, Avant que les ombres s’effacent.   He is also known to be an avid soccer fan.

Trained in literature and journalism, Dalembert first worked as a journalist in his homeland before leaving in 1986 for France where he obtained his Ph.D. at the Sorbonne in comparative literature and a master’s in journalism from the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme de Paris.  Since then, he has traveled widely as a teacher and visiting poet, including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2013, the Freie Universität (Berlin) and the University of Bern and currently holds the Writer-in-Residence Chair at Sciences Po Paris. 

His poetry has been published in several major literary journals in the US, and Dalembert was a contributor to the recently released anthology And We Came Out and Saw the Stars Again:  Writers from Around the World on the COVID-19 Epidemic.

About the Translator

Born in Indonesia (1936), raised in The Netherlands, and residing in the USA since the age of 22, Marjolin de Jager earned a Ph.D. in romance Languages and Literatures from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1975. She translates from both the Dutch and the French.  Francophone African literature, the women’s voices in particular, has a special place in her heart.  Among her honors are an NEA grant, two NEH grans and, in 2011, the annually awarded ALA Distinguished Member Award received from the African Literature Association for scholarship, teaching, and translations of African Literature.  In 2019 de Jager’s translation of Congo, Inc:  Bismarck’s Testament (Indiana University Press) was shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Awards. She has to date translated five titles for Schaffner Press.

Milwaukee Blues
Schaffner Press, May 2, 2023
282 pages, $16.95 trade paperback

ISBN: 9781639640096
eBook ISBN: 9781639640102




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