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Brother, I'm Dying

The second book I read by Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat (see the first one here) is her memoir, with focus on her father and uncle. When Edwidge was four, her father left for America, leaving her, her mother, and her brother behind. He promised to send for them in a few years. Two years later, her mother left for America and Edwidge and her brother, Bob, went to stay with their uncle, a preacher. He became a replacement father for the two young children. When her parents finally sent for them, Edwidge was already 12 and she wasn't even sure she wanted to go to America - everything she knew was in Haiti. Alas, it was her real parents, so she had to go. The entire memoir is framed by Edwidge's first pregnancy and her father's terminal illness. Her story is interesting but what I really loved about the memoir was when we learn about Uncle Joseph and her father (the brothers in the title). Haiti's history is not a happy nor stable one, and the turbulent life of Joseph, living in Bel Air (one of Haiti's most dangerous slums, plagued by poverty crime, violence, and political unrest). Throughout the memoir, as one reviewer wrote, "Danticat also tells a wider story about family and exile, the Haitian diaspora, the Duvalier regime, and post-9/11 immigration policy...[the memoir] offers insight into a talented writer, her family history, and the injustices of the modern world." [x] What is also remarkable about the memoir is that while at some parts it reads like a political novel, at other times it is a tragic story, or a story about family - yet it is truly her story, and her story alone. Rating:★★★★


The Dew Breaker