[Blackstudies-l] Edwidge Danticat on memory, migration and her attachment to Haiti

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Tue Dec 19 03:20:05 EST 2017


lisaparavisini posted: " A report from CBC Radio. Go to the original report
to listen to the audio of the interview. Haitian-American writer Edwidge
Danticat is the winner of the 2018 Neustadt International Prize for
Literature — a biennial $50,000 USD award that's known as th"
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New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/> Edwidge Danticat on
memory, migration and her attachment to Haiti
<http://repeatingislands.com/2017/12/18/edwidge-danticat-on-memory-migration-and-her-attachment-to-haiti/>
by
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

[image: claire-of-the-sea-light-by-edwidge-danticat.png]

A report from
<http://www.cbc.ca/radio/writersandcompany/edwidge-danticat-on-memory-migration-and-her-attachment-to-haiti-1.4450253>*CBC
Radio
<http://www.cbc.ca/radio/writersandcompany/edwidge-danticat-on-memory-migration-and-her-attachment-to-haiti-1.4450253>.
*Go to the original report to listen to the audio of the interview.

Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat is the winner of the 2018 Neustadt
International Prize for Literature — a biennial $50,000 USD award
that's known as the 'American Nobel.' The committee described Danticat as
"a masterful storyteller" who "paints scenes of immigrant life in New York
and Miami with fresh details and palpable familiarity."

Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1969. Her parents left the
country when she was a young child, leaving her to live with her aunt and
uncle. When she was 12 years old, Edwidge joined her parents in Brooklyn,
New York, where she had to learn English. Her first novel, *Breath, Eyes,
Memory* — published when she was just 25 — sold more than 600,000 copies
and was chosen for Oprah's Book Club. Her next book, *Krik? Krak!*, was
nominated for a National Book Award.

Edwidge Danticat spoke to Eleanor Wachtel in 2013 about her novel *Claire
of the Sea Light <http://cbc.ca/1.4022682>,* a moving story set in a
Haitian fishing village before the 2010 earthquake.
*Storytelling grandmothers*

"In my family, the men told the jokes and the women told the stories. When
people ask me who were my best writing teachers, I always think of those
women. The way they told those stories was so audience-oriented. You could
hear the same story every time, but it was told differently: there were
songs in the stories, they would make it suspenseful if it was late at
night, they followed cues in your body language if you were listening or
falling asleep. I was always too shy to tell stories the way they told
them. But when I started reading, I immediately made the connection that
writing is another kind of storytelling. It was suited to me because it was
intimate and you could do it by yourself. I am less shy in my work than I
am in person."
*Optimism as a way of life*

"One of the characters in *Claire of the Sea Light
<http://cbc.ca/1.4022682>* says precarity is like making butter out of
water. Even the very poor in Haiti are not sure how they get by. Sometimes
people wake up and they have no idea what they're going to feed their
children that day. Somehow they will go out with some optimism and try to
find something. It's a kind of extraordinary act of ingenuity and faith. A
mother who wakes up and has nothing to feed her child will dress that child
very nicely, put a beautiful bow in her hair and send her off to school
hoping that by the time she comes home from school there will be something
to feed that child. People get by on very hard work, on faith, on relying
on one another. It's an extraordinary feat of survival."
*Disaster is not the story of Haiti*

"I don't think I'm ready to write about the 2010 earthquake or the events
that followed as they relate to Haiti. I need a little more time to process
it so that the fiction is not competing with the facts. My visits to Haiti
have been short and intense. They're often moments of soaking it up and
seeing how some things have changed, a continued search for what is
different. As I've gotten older, what I've started to notice is the
environment — the sea, the trees, the physical landscape and how people
adjust to it. If I had written and placed the *Claire of the Sea Light
<http://cbc.ca/1.4022682>* story in a time after the earthquake, it would
have to be, in some ways, about the earthquake. I didn't feel ready to
write a book like that."
*lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* |
December 18, 2017 at 11:58 pm | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: https://wp.me/psnTa-z3T

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