"Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them."--Create Dangerously
In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis. Inspired by Albert Camus' lecture, "Create Dangerously," and combining memoir and essay, Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself, who create despite, or because of, the horrors that drove them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them. Danticat eulogizes an aunt who guarded her family's homestead in the Haitian countryside, a cousin who died of AIDS while living in Miami as an undocumented alien, and a renowned Haitian radio journalist whose political assassination shocked the world. Danticat writes about the Haitian novelists she first read as a girl at the Brooklyn Public Library, a woman mutilated in a machete attack who became a public witness against torture, and the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists of Haitian descent. Danticat also suggests that the aftermaths of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States reveal that the countries are not as different as many Americans might like to believe.
Create Dangerously is an eloquent and moving expression of Danticat's belief that immigrant artists are obliged to bear witness when their countries of origin are suffering from violence, oppression, poverty, and tragedy. For reading groups' discussions, here is the: Danticat Reading Group Guide.
Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of two novels, two collections of stories, two books for young adults, and two nonfiction books, one of which, Brother, I'm Dying, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. In 2009, she received a MacArthur Fellowship.
"Danticat is at her best when writing from inside Haiti. . . . As [her] recollections show, her singular achievement is not to have remade the actual Haiti, but to have recreated it. She has wound the fabric of Haitian life into her work and made it accessible to a wide audience of Americans and other outsiders. . . . Danticat's tender new book about loss and the unquenchable passion for homeland makes us remember the powerful material from which most fiction is wrought: it comes from childhood, and place. No matter her geographic and temporal distance from these, Danticat writes about them with the immediacy of love."--Amy Wilentz, New York Times Book Review
"A lean collection of jaw-breaking horrors side by side with luminous insights. . . . In Danticat's many remarkable stories and pensées from the gut, one locates the inimitable power of truth. Authorship becomes an act of subversion when one's words might be read and acted on by someone risking his or her life if only to read them."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Danticat's writing is crisp and clear, reminiscent of what the very best essay writing once aspired to be. . . . Not just another writer's book about writing, this volume delves into the suffering that affects artists who suspend themselves from time and place to create. . . . Her book should be read by students, historians and lovers of well-crafted writing."--Nedra Crowe-Evers, Library Journal
"Danticat is a marvelous writer, blending personal anecdotes, history and larger reflections without turning the immigrant writer into a victim, misunderstood by all."--Sandip Roy, San Francisco Chronicle
Table of Contents:
CHAPTER 1: Create Dangerously: Th e Immigrant Artist at Work 1
CHAPTER 2: Walk Straight 21
CHAPTER 3: I Am Not a Journalist 41
CHAPTER 4: Daughters of Memory 59
CHAPTER 5: I Speak Out 73
CHAPTER 6: The Other Side of the Water 87
CHAPTER 7: Bicentennial 97
CHAPTER 8: Another Country 107
CHAPTER 9: Flying Home 115
CHAPTER 10: Welcoming Ghosts 127
CHAPTER 11: Acheiropoietos 137
CHAPTER 12: Our Guernica 153
This book has been translated into: