Krik? Krak!

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Overview

Nine powerful stories about life under Haiti's dictatorships: the terrorism of the Tonton Macoutes; the slaughtering of hope and the resiliency of love; about those who fled to America to give their children a better life and those who stayed behind in the villages; about the linkages of generations of women through the magical tradition of storytelling.

A Haitian-American writer of subtle power and great beauty presents a collection of intimate stories about the raw...

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Overview

Nine powerful stories about life under Haiti's dictatorships: the terrorism of the Tonton Macoutes; the slaughtering of hope and the resiliency of love; about those who fled to America to give their children a better life and those who stayed behind in the villages; about the linkages of generations of women through the magical tradition of storytelling.

A Haitian-American writer of subtle power and great beauty presents a collection of intimate stories about the raw longings of people for some chance at peace and happiness for themselves and their imprisoned society, about existences contorted by forced separation, and of personal lives shot through with terror.

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Editorial Reviews

Tina McElroy Ansa
What beautifully powerful language. What a brilliant storyteller. Edwidge Danticat is a writer of subtlety and grace. She writes with such honesty, beauty and truth. Her stories can be breathtaking, disturbing, moving, her language lyrical. A stunning collection.
Black College Today
Walter Mosley
Edwidge Danticat's strong and unique voice speaks in the language of hearts. She knows the dreams and hidden thoughts of her characters, and her readers. She takes us traveling down a river of blood. That river sings in our veins.
Black College Today
Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
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.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.
Library Journal
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
Library Journal

A good story will stand the test of time, and such is the case with this recording, a collection of nine interwoven yet distinctly different stories of the Haitian experience. First published in 1995, Krik? Krak!will resonate with listeners today as the horrors described from Haiti's past parallel current headlines emanating from other parts of the world. Poverty, hunger, corruption, and torture are depicted alongside resilience, faith, dignity, and hope. The opening story, "Children of the Sea," is a heart-wrenching saga captured in diaries kept by two lovers who find themselves tragically separated. Through the daily entries, Danticat (Brother, I'm Dying) paints a vivid and memorable picture of both the hardships and suffering of those living in her native Haiti and the perils faced by those who tried to escape the brutality of the Duvalier regime. "A Wall of Fire Rising" is much more subtle but no less memorable in capturing the intensity of one man's desire for freedom from oppression. Throughout the nine tales, Danticat's strong female characters help weave the stories into a cohesive whole by referring back to characters we've previously met. Though bleak in the beginning, the book offers glimmers of hope as the characters' awareness of their underlying strengths are revealed. Narrators Robin Miles and Dion Graham move easily among multiple Haitian and American accents. That said, one's reaction to each story seems as much tied to the voice chosen for each character by the narrators as to Danticat's spare and emotional prose. Recommended for public libraries.
—Valerie Piechocki

School Library Journal
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
Donna Seaman
Danticat, a young Haitian American writer, was widely praised for her debut novel, "Breath, Eyes, Memory" (1994), and her reputation will continue to grow with the publication of this steady-handed yet devastating set of short stories. Danticat writes about the violence and despair of Haiti with precision and directness. The collection's title comes from a Haitian storytelling tradition in which the "young ones will know what came before them. They ask Krik? We say Krak! Our stories are kept in our hearts." This passing of stories from one generation to the next, especially from mother to daughter, forges a life-sustaining chain across the awful abyss of Haiti's brutality. The treasuring of memories and legends is at the heart of each of Danticat's tales and is often the only legacy anyone can hold on to. In "Children of the Sea," a young couple is forced apart, threatened with death. About to die at sea, he wonders if she'll remember their "silly dreams." In Haiti, where politics are lethal and women are condemned to suffering and death by men who envy and fear their powers, hope does indeed seem ludicrous, but in Danticat's fiction, mind and spirit soar above the pain and horrors of life.
Sacred Fire
When Haitian storytellers get ready to tell a story, they say "Krik?" Their eager listeners respond, "Krak!" With Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat established herself as a superior storyteller within and without Haiti's narrative tradition. Krik? Krak! reveals the wonder, terror, and pain of Danticat's native Haiti and the enduring strength of Haitian women. Danticat writes about the terrorism of the Tonton Macoutes; the death of hope and the resiliency of love; the Haitians who fled to America to give their children a better life, as her parents did; and the bridge to the past through the tradition of story-telling.

The first seven stories are about chaotic life under political oppression and poverty in Haiti, and the imaginative strategies devised by Haitians to maintain their ideals and hopes in the face of unfathomable hardship. The powerful first story, "Children 0f the Sea," sets the tone for the Haitian stories. It is a moving series of diary entries from alternating narrators: a young man fleeing Haiti on a dilapidated boat and his girlfriend back on the island. who is living in fear of her life and of his. The last two stories, based in New York City, demonstrate how even after leaving their homeland, Danticat's Haitian characters cling to their heritage while trying to adapt to a new land and a new set of opportunities.

The stories are about people who embrace mythic powers and rites of passage and people who long for peace and happiness for themselves and their country. Danticat captured reader and reviewers with her passion and lyrical writing in what she refers to as her distant third language. A finalist for the National Book Award and Danticat's second book, Krik? Krak! is full of vibrant imagery and grace that bear witness to the Haitian people's suffering and courage.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780784808160
  • Publisher: Marco Book Company
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009

Meet the Author

Edwidge Danticat
Since the publication of her debut work Breath, Eyes, Memory in 1994, Edwidge Danticat has won praise as one of
America'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 her birthplace 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 the
Dominican Republic, will be published in September 1998 by Soho Press.

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Table of Contents

1 Children of the Sea 1
2 Nineteen Thirty-Seven 31
3 A Wall of Fire Rising 51
4 Night Women 81
5 Between the Pool and the Gardenias 89
6 The Missing Peace 101
7 Seeing Things Simply 123
8 New York Day Women 143
9 Caroline's Wedding 155
Epilogue: Women Like Us 217
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 73 )
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