Monday, August 22, 2011

Edwidge Danticat Talks About Writing

Edwidge Danticat discusses what it is to be an artist and immigrant with Paul Holdengraber.
(Trigger Warning: She reads material that describes an execution.)

For a lot of writers I think the reader and the writer overlap” - Edwidge Danticat.

I love that. I want to read things that the author loves, that the author would want to read. It's like an invitation into their world.

Danticat was discussing her recent book, Create Dangerously. I haven't read it, so will give you a summary from Princeton University Press:
"In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis. Inspired by Albert Camus' lecture, "Create Dangerously," and combining memoir and essay, Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself, who create despite, or because of, the horrors that drove them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them. Danticat eulogizes an aunt who guarded her family's homestead in the Haitian countryside, a cousin who died of AIDS while living in Miami as an undocumented alien, and a renowned Haitian radio journalist whose political assassination shocked the world. Danticat writes about the Haitian novelists she first read as a girl at the Brooklyn Public Library, a woman mutilated in a machete attack who became a public witness against torture, and the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists of Haitian descent. Danticat also suggests that the aftermaths of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States reveal that the countries are not as different as many Americans might like to believe."
I've only read one book by Danticat, The Dew Breaker. The title refers to a group of paramilitary torturers who sneak up to houses early in the morning to claim their victims. Yeah, scary stuff.

The Dew Breaker
It is set, primarily, in Haiti, with some scenes in Florida and others in Brooklyn, New York. One of the characters is a former member of the notorious Tonton Macoute. Another is a young Haitian American sculptor. The book is a series of interconnected stories rather than one continuous narrative, but they form a cohesive whole.

The novel certainly has implications on what it means to be a immigrant artist working in the United States. I'd like to see what Danticat has to say directly on the subject in her nonfiction work. Another book to be added to the ever-growing Mount TBR.


Shelley said...

You're reminding me that I want to read more by Danticat. I loved Krik? Krak!, a short-story collection and Breath, Eyes, Memory. I'll have to add The Dew Breaker to my TBR list. What's one more?

MJ said...

@Shelley Hi Shelley, I think her only other novel is The Farming of Bones. I want to read more from her, too!

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

I really need to read her. She's been recommended to me for sometime now but have not yet come across her books. Thanks very much.

MJ said...

@Nana Fredua-Agyeman I definitely recommend picking up one of her books if you find one. Thanks for stopping by!