(Part two of a series)
To read the first part of the Courier’s special series on Erv Dyer’s upcoming trip to Haiti, click the link below…
In 1981, Edwidge Danticat came to Brooklyn, N.Y., from her native Haiti. She was 12 and adjusting to the American space that her immigrant parents had called home since the 1970s. In the years since, Danticat has become an accomplished author, writing about Haitian life and loss in historical and personal terms.
“I love building characters,” she said. “I draw from their emotional spaces, from memories of sadness. I love investing in the character.”
In her newest book, “The Art of Death,” she writes about her mother’s death from cancer. The New York Times has described the book as “a kind of prayer…an act of mourning and remembrance, a purposeful act of grieving.” In the book, Danticat also writes about how other characters and writers, including Tolstoy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, have dealt with death.
In her 2007 book, “Brother I’m Dying,” which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, she wrote about the deaths of her father and uncle.
A recipient of the prized MacArthur Fellowship, Danticat is the author of “Breath, Eyes, Memory,” an Oprah’s Book Club Selection; “The Farming of the Bones,” an American Book Award winner; and “Krik? Krak!,” which was nominated for a National Book Award.
In this New Pittsburgh Courier “Q & A,” Danticat talks about her efforts to write about the humanity of Haiti, using her voice to help Haitians feel like they belong to America, and the Pan-African friendship between poet Langston Hughes and Haitian writer Jacques Roumain.
NPC: Your work does so much to lift the perception of Haiti from just being a “flat,’’ one-dimensional place to a place that is full of beauty and struggle. This fuller space is often seen in how you write about the imaginary location of Ville Rose.