Saturday, August 01, 2009

CRC 5: "The Dew Breaker" -- Edwidge Danticat

This is my fifth entry for the Caribbean Reading Challenge.

The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat, published 2004.

This book is a collection of interrelated short stories dealing with Haitian immigrants to the U. S., whose lives are intertwined in various ways with that of one individual known as the "dew breaker," a term used to identify government torturers and executioners under the Duvalier regime. In the course of the work, we see the dew breaker's story from his point of view and why he fled Haiti to become a barber in New York, his wife's view of their lives together both before and after she learned that he was responsible for the torture and death of her brother, their adult daughter's learning of her father's real identity, and the lives of some of those who were his victims or the victims of other "dew breakers." Danticat's emphasis is less on historical detail or even assigning of guilt than on portraying the emotional, psychological, and personal consequences to all of those involved, because in a very real sense all of those portrayed are victims of the society of violence and oppression the Duvaliers created in Haiti.

I found this to be a powerful and affecting work, even more so than Danticat's previous work dealing with the similar society of Trujillo's Dominican Republic in The Farming of Bones. I highly recommend it.


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