Maryse Condé’s novel Waiting for the Waters to Rise addresses immigration, nationalism, friendship, colorism, and political power through the intersecting lives of three friends.
Babakar, a handsome obstetrician in Guadeloupe, is haunted by the voice of his deceased mother. He struggles with his intimate relationships. One night, he is summoned to deliver the baby of a Haitian immigrant, Reinette. When she dies in childbirth, Babakar decides to raise the baby as his own. He names her Anaïs.
On the night of Anaïs’s birth, Babakar also befriends Movar, Reinette’s friend. Movar tells Babakar that Reinette’s wish was to have her daughter return to Haiti; they set off with Anaïs in search of her mother’s family. In the course of their search, they befriend Fouad, a Palestinian immigrant who’s living in Haiti. The men forge a strong bond, living together, raising Anaïs, and searching for her family.
As the story jumps from locale to locale, it conjures up the sense of statelessness that binds the men together. The prose is fluid, luminous, and evocative of each setting. It also hops from the present day to the rich backstories of each character, highlighting the struggles inflicted on them because of political strife, climate disasters, and colorism. They are layered characters who, despite their circumstances, find hope in friendship. The novel is crowded with details about their struggles; they are linked through how they’ve survived deceit, betrayal, and hardship. The subtle cynicism throughout the novel is balanced by the love the men have for each other.
In the literary novel Waiting for the Waters to Rise, three friends survive political regimes and natural disasters with each other’s help.
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