Date Read: July 8th 2015
Publisher: Vintage Books
At an astonishingly young age, Edwidge Danticat has become one of our most celebrated new writers. She is an artist who evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti – and the enduring strength of Haiti’s women – with a vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people’s suffereing and courage.
When Haitians tell a story, they say “Krik?” and the eager listeners answer “Krak!” In Krik? Krak! Danticat establishes herself as the latest heir to that narrative tradition with nine stories that encompass both the cruelties and the high ideals of Haitian life. They tell of women who continue loving behind prison walls and in the face of unfathomable loss; of a people who resist the brutality of their rulers through the powers of imagination. The result is a collection that outrages, saddens, and transports the reader with its sheer beauty.
Review – ★★★★ (4 stars)
Reading Krik? Krak! was a pleasant experience! It was the perfect summer read, especially since most of the short stories in this collection take place in Haiti – the island with the indigo blue skies and the sandy beaches. It is very evident that Danticat wrote this collection from her heart and I felt her love for the island in every story. All nine stories have a calm nature to them and they read smoothly. These stories were truly engaging and I loved that they all seemed interconnected with one another and had some sort of realistic twist. Danticat’s effortless talent in storytelling is wonderfully showcased in this collection and my favorite stories were:
Between the Pool and the Gardenias – This was a crazy story! A housemaid finds and keeps an abandoned baby and decides to name the baby, Rose. After a couple of days, she realizes that the baby is emitting a strong stench…because it is dead and rotting! This story startled me and I loved it.
The Missing Peace – This is a story about a precocious, brave, fourteen year old named ‘Lamort’ by her grandmother (‘Lamort’ means ‘death’ – because after she was born, her mother died. Quite eerie). I love how Lamort finds her own voice by the end of this story, grâce à her forbidden friendship with an American journalist who visits the island.
Caroline’s Wedding – This was an interesting tale of a Haitian family residing in New York City. The adult daughters in this family – Gracina and Caroline, live with their widowed mother. Their mother is very bitter that her last child – Caroline (who was born without her left forearm) is marrying a Bahamian and not a Haitian. Meanwhile, as Gracina tries to placate her mother’s resentment, she learns more about her parents’ marriage and starts to have strange dreams about her deceased father.
Epilogue: Women Like Us – This piece was a solid conclusion to the collection of stories. I’m assuming this was a true account on the struggles Danticat experienced in convincing her family of her desire to become a writer instead of the stereotypical housewife or cook most women in her family pride themselves and aspire to.
I learned a great deal about Haiti from this collection and Danticat expertly highlights the hardships Haiti has faced and how these trials have affected its citizens. I’m actually still researching things from the book to learn more, for example: the coup d’etats Haiti faced in 1988 and 1991, Papa Doc Duvalier (Haiti’s ex-president – François Duvalier) and his role in Haiti’s development etc. Krik? Krak! was an enlightening read from the diaspora and I will definitely be reading more of Danticat’s work soon. Edwidge Danticat’s books have been on my to-read list for a while now and I must say, fellow book blogger – Shannon from Reading Has Purpose (check out her book blog!), made me even more eager to indulge in Danticat’s work, as she is a huge fan and speaks highly of her novels! I think the next book I read by Danticat will be her first novel (1994), Eyes, Breath, Memory.
★★★★ (4 stars) – Great book. Highly recommend!
Purchase Krik? Krak! from Amazon