Black College Today
Krik? Krak!by Edwidge Danticat
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.
Black College Today
Black College Today
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.
"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
- Soho Press, Incorporated
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Meet the Author
Edwidge Danticat is the author of numerous books, including Brother, I’m Dying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a National Book Award finalist; Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Dew Breaker, winner of the inaugural Story Prize; and The Farming of Bones, which won an American Book Award for fiction in 1999. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Krik ,krak is a inspirational story based on womanhood and motherhood.The ladies in the story were dealt the worst cards of them all and through it they kept their faith, their love and their traditions. The tragedies that were in the novel gave vivid heartbreaking images that changed the way i think of my fellow women and the culture of Haiti.
This is a very interesting book. While educating us on the political and social atmosphere of Haiti during the early 1900s, it focuses on the struggles of generations of women in a particular family. The stories of these women can then be assumed to be that of most women in Haiti at the time. The author uses the idea of storytelling in order to bring us to a main idea that women were really experiencing uncomfortable lives. Danticat shows us both the weaknesses and strengths of a woman through her heart-touching stories. These stories will forever linger in my mind. Each of the nine stories displays either misfortune or accomplishment and such a contrast gives the story even more interest. You could never really predict what would happen next because of the diversity. This book captures your soul from beginning to end. Somehow you feel the pain or joy that each woman feels. I recommend that you buy Krik? Krak! in order to fully experience the lives of these Haitian women of the early 1990s.
I just picked up this book and wasn't able to put it down. The way this was written gave such enthusiasm on to just coming home to it. The stories were told to a realistic point in which you felt that you were there. I many times got so caught up in it that I would lose my stop on the train. I definitely recommend it to anyone wanting something to catch their attention!