Ready to Burst tells the tale of a young man’s efforts to navigate the challenges of a deeply troubled society. The novel moves fluidly between his experiences and those of his alter ego, opening a window onto the absurd realities of a dictatorship. First published in 1968, Ready to Burst presents a sensitive critique of François Duvalier’s suffocating regime and its consequences for a generation of young people in Haiti. The novel offers at once an exquisite verbal painting of life within a specific context of terror and a vivid exploration of love, hope, and the delicate membrane between reality and dream.
Every day I use the dialect of lunatic hurricanes.
I speak the madness of clashing winds.
Every evening I use the patois of furious rains.
I speak the fury of waters in flood.
His work can speak to the most intellectual person in the society as well as the most humble. It's a very generous kind of genius he has, one I can't imagine Haitian literature ever existing without.
— Edwidge Danticat
The "burst" in Ready to Burst, also announces the eruption onto the scene of one of literature's great figures [...] a magician of technique and feeling, in the tradition of a great family of writers like James Joyce, João Guimarães Rosa et Osman Lins.
— Rafael Lucas in his preface to the 2004 French edition of Ready to Burst
Each of Frankétienne's words builds a world of which every Haitian dreams.
— Emmelie Prophete, Haitian-American writer, Huffington Post
Frankétienne speaks like an educated man [...] but also like a friend and a citizen of the world at peace with himself and with others.
— Annick Chalifour, l'Express.
It is Frankétienne's audacity in his writing - his charming ability to calmly bring his interlocutor into his initially terrifying world [...] which makes him such an incredible writer and persona.
— Alessandra Benedicty, Huffington Post
A Haitian novel about friendship, politics and artistic theory.... Frankétienne writes with a savage beauty about politics, art, and the roles of men and women in a turbulent world.
— Kirkus Reviews
Ready to Burst is [...] an impressive case-study -- a novel that is 'ready to burst' yet manages still to maintain a solid enough shape for readers to readily grasp it and what its author wishes to convey, in all its messy power.
— The Complete Review
Ready to Burst marks the first, long overdue, appearance in the United States of the energetic founder of literary 'spiralism'[...] it consists of three at once intersecting and merging lives, and their single, compelling, intricately structured story is told in resourceful, oft-poetic language.
— John Taylor, Arts Fuse
Ready to Burst is a gorgeous, explosive book filled to the brim with genius and fantasy, with surreal dreams and memories. Open it anywhere and it will astonish you.
— Amy Wilentz, Chicago Tribune
Ready to Burst reads...with an energy akin to the charged manifestos of the Italian Futurists.
— The Daily Beast
This is an amazing revelation, a deep and meaningful read, lyrical, possessed, frightening, honest, shocking and gripping. A celebration of the written word, even a celebration of single words, yes experimental in form but enlightening in structure and style.
— Messengers Booker
Frankétienne’s multiple narrators [...] are vividly imaginative, especially in their telling of brief, but terrible, incidents in their lives. [...] Kaiama L. Glover, the translator of Ready to Burst, met the significant challenge of this important writer.
— Charles R. Larson, Counterpunch
Kaiama L. Glover’s choice to translate—brilliantly—this particular work may be seen as a gesture toward reconnecting Spiralism with the broader literary history of the Caribbean... In this masterfully controlled chaos of a novel, the quotidian and the exceptional rub elbows—and the autobiographical is often more surreal than the fictional.
— Corine Stofle, Public Books