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Krik? Krak!
Edwidge Danticat
Adult Fiction DANTICAT

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From Publishers' 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

A good story will stand the test of time, and such is the case with this recording, a collection of nine interwoven yet distinctly different stories of the Haitian experience. First published in 1995, Krik? Krak! will resonate with listeners today as the horrors described from Haiti's past parallel current headlines emanating from other parts of the world. Poverty, hunger, corruption, and torture are depicted alongside resilience, faith, dignity, and hope. The opening story, "Children of the Sea," is a heart-wrenching saga captured in diaries kept by two lovers who find themselves tragically separated. Through the daily entries, Danticat (Brother, I'm Dying) paints a vivid and memorable picture of both the hardships and suffering of those living in her native Haiti and the perils faced by those who tried to escape the brutality of the Duvalier regime. "A Wall of Fire Rising" is much more subtle but no less memorable in capturing the intensity of one man's desire for freedom from oppression. Throughout the nine tales, Danticat's strong female characters help weave the stories into a cohesive whole by referring back to characters we've previously met. Though bleak in the beginning, the book offers glimmers of hope as the characters' awareness of their under-lying strengths are revealed. Narrators Robin Miles and Dion Graham move easily among multiple Haitian and American accents. That said, one's reaction to each story seems as much tied to the voice chosen for each character by the narrators as to Danticat's spare and emotional prose. Recommended for public libraries.-Valerie Piechocki, Prince George's Cty. Memorial Lib., Largo, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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