Every word of Was für ein Wunder (What a Miracle) insists on poetry, love and self-assertion. The shock of the earthquake that destroyed Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince in 2010 and killed up to 500,000 people is followed by more: a disastrous economy, media battles, cholera. James Noël has written of a battle of human against earth, population against aid organizations and strives in every line to counter the disasters and their news coverage with his own voice. It is thanks to Rike Bolte’s thoughtful translation, which knows its limits and possibilities, that Noël’s linguistically powerful, yet seemingly light-footed struggle, his precise, tireless indictment, also appears empowering and lastingly impressive in German.
— Heike Geißler, jury
James Noël became famous overnight with his Creole poem Bon nouvèl and is now one of Haiti’s most important contemporary poets. In January 2018 he wrote a well-received open letter to Donald Trump who had described several nations, including Haiti, as “shithole countries.” That same year, a selection of his poems was published in a German/French edition under the title Die größte der Raubkatzen / Le plus grand des félins. Was für ein Wunder (Belle merveille) is his first novel.
Rike Bolte holds a doctorate in literature and teaches Latin American, Spanish and Francophone literatures and cultures. She is co-founder and curator of the Latinale poetry festival and translator of poetry and prose from Spanish and French. Among others, Nora Gomringer, Lucía Puenzo and Lina Meruane have been translated by her.