For the last month or so I kept noticing Edwidge Danticat’s book Brother, I’m Dying whenever I’d stroll through the section of my public library containing all the biographies, autobiographies and memoirs. With each passing I grew curiouser and curiouser until one day I’d had enough so I grabbed it. After letting it sit ignored by my bed for about a week I cracked it open and began to read. I finished it in what felt like no time, thanks in no small part to Danticat’s fine skill as a writer.
Published in 2007, Danticat’s family memoir begins the day she learns she’s pregnant and her father is dying. From there, she looks back on her life and that of her family, Haitians who were forced to leave the Island nation because of its grinding poverty, political instability and chronic violence. While her parents and two of her siblings were able to seek refuge in the United States it would take eight more years before Danticat and her young brother could join them, during which they were cared for by her uncle, a former political activist turned Protestant minister. While living in New York City her father drove a gypsy cab to help make ends meet and her uncle served his congregation back in Haiti. But as drug-fueled gang violence and urban warfare intensified, her uncle, now with a price on his head was forced to flee the country. Sadly, without revealing too much let’s say his attempt in seeking political asylum in America, like so many others we’ve heard of late, would end in tragedy.
I’m glad I took a chance on Brother, I’m Dying. Not knowing what to expect, Danticat’s writing left me surprisingly impressed. I’d like to read more her stuff like The Farming of Bones and The Dew Breaker. Don’t be surprised if you see more of her books featured on my blog.