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Edwidge Danticat
Edwidge Danticat

"the voice of Haitian-Americans"- NY Times

NYS Writers Institute, April 26, 2004
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus



PROFILE:
Fiction writer Edwidge Danticat has earned numerous awards and honors. At the young age of 26, Danticat was nominated for the National Book Award for her short story collection, Krik? Krak!(1995). Granta named her one of the 20 Best American Novelists in 1996. Danticat’s first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994), was a 1998 selection of Oprah’s Book Club. In 1999, Danticat’s second novel, The Farming of Bones, received the American Book Award.

Danticat is scheduled to read in Albany as part of the ongoing celebration of 200 years of Haitian Independence.

The Dew BreakerDanticat’s newest story is The Dew Breaker (March 2004), the tale of a quiet man from Haiti, a former state torturer, now living a "respectable" life in Brooklyn, New York. Publishers Weekly said, "The slow accumulation of details pinpointing the past’s effects on the present makes for powerful reading . . ." and praised Danticat as "a crafter of subtle, gorgeous sentences and scenes."

Danticat spent the first twelve years of her life in Haiti. In 1981, she joined her parents who had already emigrated some time previously to Brooklyn, New York. While still in junior high school, Danticat began recording memories of home, work that ultimately evolved into her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, a poignant, often painful, coming-of-age story. Bob Shacochis, writing in the Washington Post, called it, "a novel that rewards a reader again and again with small but exquisite and unforgettable memories."

Krik? Krak! is a collection of stories about Haitian women and men trapped in adversity. Some stories also examine the clash between Haitian and American culture. "Spare, elegant and moving, these stories cohere into a superb collection," said Publisher’s Weekly, while Library Journal observed that, "Danticat beautifully balances the poverty, despair, and brutality her characters endure with magic and myth."

Danticat’s prize-winning 1998 novel, The Farming of Bones, treats an historical incident, the 1937 "ethnic cleansing" of nearly 15,000 Haitians by soldiers of the Dominican Republic. Writing in Time magazine, Christopher John Farley said that, "Every chapter cuts deep, and you feel it…. ‘The Farming of Bones’ always remains focused, with precise, disciplined language, and in doing so, it uncovers moments of raw humanness. This is a book that, confronted with corpses, has the cold-eyed courage to find a smile."

Danticat is also the author of the nonfiction book, After the Dance: A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti (2002), an engaging account of Danticat’s visit to that Haitian city during Carnival week, an event she was prohibited from attending as a child.

Danticat has worked on documentary film projects about Haiti with Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme, most recently The Agronomist (2003), about human rights activist Jean Dominique. With Demme, Danticat also co-authored the art book, Odilon Pierre, Artist of Haiti (1999).

Additional Links:
Sunday Times Union Article

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.