Saturday, July 29, 2017

Three top books on Haiti

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka tagged three top books on Haiti. One title on the list:
The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat

Danticat's novel moves back and forth between 1960s Haiti and present-day New York as it tells the story of a Dew Breaker, a name given to torturers during the repressive regime of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who takes victims away "before dawn, as the dew is settling on the leaves".

Nine chapters, each of which could be a standalone short story, provide fragments of the Dew Breaker's life as seen through the eyes of his family and his victims. These fractured vignettes draw the reader into a larger, more complex tale.

The Dew Breaker is now hiding from his bloody past, working as a barber in Brooklyn. But he daily faces the threat of being recognised by one of his victims and exposed for what he once was.

In the novel's final chapter, the disparate stories satisfyingly come together as we meet the Dew Breaker preparing for his final killing before leaving Haiti.

This clever and powerful novel shows how hunter and prey – who are seeking new lives in the US – find their present and future circumscribed by a brutal past.

Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the US when she was 12. In the acknowledgements, she writes: "For my father, who, thank goodness, is not in this book."
Read about another book on the list.

See also Ben Fountain's top ten books about Haiti and Amy Wilentz's ten best books on Haiti.

--Marshal Zeringue