Books About Haiti — It’s almost unfair, really. A group of people never wants to be seen as a monolith. Like any homogenous people, Haitians are multifaceted. This is especially true for Haitians since the diaspora has carried many of us in different directions around the globe and because our republic is as old as it is. That being said, Edwidge Danticat carries the burden of being the face of Haitian literature. The foremost of Haitian Authors, odds are if you’re if mainstream media is covering Haiti, they’ll either be looking to interview Wyclef Jean or Edwidge Danticat. That being said, she carries the burden very well and represents Haiti masterfully.
Though Danticat sits atop the throne of Haitian literature, she is very keen on inspiring other Haitian authors & writers. Her recent book Create Dangerously is a reflection on her career and the writing careers of others who write even when writing meant their lives were in danger.
Edwidge Danticat, an Ivy League Scholar, was born in Haiti in 1969. She came to the United States at the age of twelve. She graduated from Barnard College and went on to receive an M.F.A. from Brown University. Her debut novel Breath, Eyes, Memory garnered her immediate praise.
I first learned of Edwidge Danticat in one of my 300 English lit classes. Dr. Hernandez, the professor for this class, was really good about picking modern, culturally diverse books — it was in this class that I was introduced to Junot Diaz, a great Dominican-American writer.
My first Edwidge Danticat book was Krik? Krak!, a title that gives away the fact that this book is a book of short stories. If I had to describe Krik? Krak! in one word, I’d call it Woeful. It is very relevant to people currently living in Haiti and those living in the diaspora. Odds are many of the characters will remind you of a certain aunt or uncle or cousin or even a parent.
Whereas an American classic novel like As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner can focus on a certain kind of American family in a certain part of America, Krik? Krak! is very concerned with The Haitian Family. To the extent that there can only be one kind of Haitian Family, Edwidge Danticat encompasses it in Krik! as she explores the quintessential Haitian Family and its enduring desire to be together — if nothing else–, but being pulled apart by outside elements.
The events and characters in Krik? Krak! are so interesting that you really fly through the pages. I can’t recommend Krik? enough. Breath, Eyes, Memory is also a great read. Oprah choose it for her book club. Oprah.