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
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 - 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.)
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
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
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.
From the Publisher
Praise for Krik? Krak!
"Steeped in the myths and lore that sustained generations of Haitians, Krik? Krak! demonstrates the healing power of storytelling."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Virtually flawless . . . If the news from Haiti is too painful to read, read this book instead and understand the place more deeply than you ever thought possible."
—Washington Post Book World
"The voices of Krik? Krak! . . . encapsulate whole lifetimes of experience. Harsh, passionate, lyrical."
—The Seattle Times
"Steady-handed yet devastating . . . 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."
"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 . . . Highly recommended."
"Spare, luminous stories that read like poems . . . [These] tales more than confirm the promise of her magical first novel. A silenced Haiti has once again found its literary voice."
—Paule Marshall, author of Daughters