Tuesday, 1 January 2008

January writer: Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1969. Because her parents immigrated to New York when she was very young, Danticat was raised by an aunt. Danticat says that the memories of Haiti are still extremely vivid in her mind, and that her love of Haiti and things Haitian deeply influences her writing.

At the age of twelve, Danticat joined her parents in Brooklyn. She later 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 where, as her thesis, she wrote Breath, Eyes, Memory (Soho Press, 1994). This novel tells of four generations of Haitian women who struggle to overcome their poverty and powerlessness.

Krik? Krak! (1995) was a National Book Award finalist. In this collection of short stories Danticat explores Haitian identity, culture, and tradition. Many of her stories address the island's political state of affairs.

The Farming of Bones (1998), was an American Book Award winner. Other works include Behind the Mountains (2002), The Dew Breaker (2004), Anacaona: Golden Flower, Haiti, 1490 (2005), and Brother, I'm Dying (2007). She is also the editor of The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States and The Beacon Best of 2000: Great Writing by Men and Women of All Colors and Cultures.

Danticat's short stories have appeared in over twenty-five periodicals and have been anthologized several times. Her work has been translated into French, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and other languages, and she has won many prestigious awards and prizes for her writing.

In her article We Are Ugly, But We Are Here we find a distillation of the ethos that drives the writing of Edwidge Danticat.


PJ said...

I'd never heard of her before now, but I'll definitely look her up.

Kanani said...

I will look her up!
Yes, thanks for running such a fine blog and letting the world know about writers like Edwidge Danticat.

Anonymous said...

I just read Edwidge Danticat's bio on Wikipedia and I find your blog post to be even more informative. I know someone who was living (working) in Haiti recently and there was never a day without drama. I recently read Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder and I recommend it.

The Anti-Wife said...

I spent July of 1976 and July of 1978 in Haiti as a poor college student on a work/study program. It was an amazing experience and the people were wonderful to us. Thank you for letting us know about her work.

Lane said...

Yep. I'll be looking her up too. Thanks Liane:-)

(and happy new year too:-)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I read the Farming of Bones last year and could not put it down. I want to get her latest non-fiction book "Brother I'm Dying". She is an incredible writer.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I've read 'Krik? Krak!' and loved it, but nothing else. I'll go looking for more now I've read your post.

wordtryst said...

PJ, she wrote the foreword to the edition of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God that I read, and that was the first I heard of her. Then my sister read one of her short stories and was really impressed. She was even more impressed when she found out how young Danticat was.

Thank you, Kanani and Lane.
She's definitely worth looking up.

aka_lol, you flatter me, but I like it. Thanks for the recommendation; I'll go look it up now.

I met Haitians in Miami and some of their stories were heartrending. One that stuck was told to me by a lovely LPN whose 13-year old son was gunned down in her house in front of his grandmother and younger sister. When I met the lady she told me that her son would have been 25 that day and her daughter, who had witnessed the murder, was so distraught that she could not go to work.

Watching suffering on the news is bad enough, but what is conveyed when you actually meet people who have lived through terror is indescribable.

Anti-wife, you're welcome. It seems to me that the less people have materially, the more generous they are in spirit.

Nyc/caribbean and Zinnia, I intend to read every single one!

KeVin K. said...

Thanks for sharing this. Now I have someone new to read.

wordtryst said...

You're welcome, Kevin.