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Since the publication of her debut work Breath, Eyes, Memory in 1994, Edwidge Danticat has won praise as one ofAmerica's brightest, most graceful and vibrant young writers.In this novel, and in her National Book Award-nominated collection of stories, Krik? Krak!, Danticat evokes the powerful imagination and rich narrative tradition of her native Haiti, and in the process records the suffering, triumphs, and wisdom of its people.Author Paule Marshall has said of Danticat, "A silenced Haiti has once again found its literary voice." Born in Haiti in 1969, Danticat, like the protagonist of her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, at the age of twelve left herbirthplace for New York to reunite with her parents.She earned a degree in French Literature from Barnard College, where she won the 1995 Woman of Achievement Award, and later an MFA from Brown University.More recently, she has received an ongoing grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation. Critical acclaim and awards for her first novel included a Granta Regional Award for the Best Young American Novelists, a Pushcart Prize and fiction awards from Essence and Seventeen magazines.She was chosen by Harper's Bazaar as one of 20 people in their twenties who will make a difference, and was featured in a New York Times Magazine article that named "30 Under 30" creative people to watch.This winter, Jane magazine named her one of the "15 Gutsiest Women of the Year." Danticat's second novel, The Farming of Bones, based upon the 1937 massacre of Haitians at the border of theDominican Republic, will be published in September 1998 by Soho Press."
Arriving one year after the Haitian-American's first novel (Breath, Eyes, Memory) alerted critics to her compelling voice, these 10 stories, some of which have appeared in small literary journals, confirm Danticat's reputation as a remarkably gifted writer. Examining the lives of ordinary Haitians, particularly those struggling to survive under the brutal Duvalier regime, Danticat illuminates the distance between people's desires and the stifling reality of their lives. A profound mix of Catholicism and voodoo spirituality informs the tales, bestowing a mythic importance on people described in the opening story, ``Children of the Sea,'' as those ``in this world whose names don't matter to anyone but themselves.'' The ceaseless grip of dictatorship often leads men to emotionally abandon their families‘like the husband in ``A Wall of Fire Rising,'' who dreams of escaping in a neighbor's hot-air balloon. The women exhibit more resilience, largely because of their insistence on finding meaning and solidarity through storytelling; but Danticat portrays these bonds with an honesty that shows that sisterhood, too, has its power plays. In the book's final piece, ``Epilogue: Women Like Us,'' she writes: ``Are there women who both cook and write? Kitchen poets, they call them. They slip phrases into their stew and wrap meaning around their pork before frying it. They make narrative dumplings and stuff their daughter's mouths so they say nothing more.'' The stories inform and enrich one another, as the female characters reveal a common ancestry and ties to the fictional Ville Rose. In addition to the power of Danticat's themes, the book is enhanced by an element of suspense (we're never certain, for example, if a rickety boat packed with refugees introduced in the first tale will reach the Florida coast). Spare, elegant and moving, these stories cohere into a superb collection. (Apr.)
YA‘Danticat, born under Haitian dictatorship, moved to the U.S. 12 years ago. Many of the stories in this moving collection reflect the misery she has observed from afar and leave readers with a deep sadness for her native country. Survivors at sea in a too-small, leaky boat endure any indignity for the chance at escape. Selections about those remaining in Haiti have a dreamlike quality. A woman must watch her mother rot in prison for political crimes. A young father longs so much to fly that he gives his life for a few moments in the air. A prostitute plies her trade while her son sleeps. ``New York Day Women'' shows what life might be like in the U.S. for immigrants without resources. Through unencumbered prose, the author explores the effects of politics on people and especially the consequences of oppression on women, the themes of which figure into each of these vignettes.‘Ginny Ryder, Lee High School, Springfield, VA
This collection of previously published but interrelated short stories presents the harsh reality of daily Haitian life under a state-approved terrorist regime. Despite the harshness, Danticat beautifully balances the poverty, despair, and brutality her characters endure with magic and myth. For many characters, she also explores the inevitable clash between traditions of Haitian home life and a new American culture. Principally mothers and daughters confront each other in these cultural and intergenerational wars, wars that would be emotionally devastating were it not for the indomitable presence of love. This theme is treated best in the work's longest piece "Caroline's Wedding." krik? krak! is Danticat's second publishing venture and second triumph folowing her well-received first novel Breath, Eyes, Memory (LJ 3/15/94). Highly recommended.‘Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon, Eugene