MacArthur Fellow and acclaimed Haitian writer, author of Brother, I'm Dying and Claire of the Sea Light
About Edwidge Danticat
Edwidge Danticat published her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, at the age of twenty-five. The book was selected for Oprah’s Book Club and was immediately recognized by readers and critics alike as heralding the emergence of a shining new literary talent. Danticat’s profound connection to her native Haiti and the Haitian community in the United States has not only informed her literary output, but has made her a passionate advocate.
Her 2017 book, The Art of Death, Writing the Final Story, is at once a personal account of her mother dying from cancer and a deeply considered reckoning with the ways that other writers have approached death in their own work. It was published to much critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Previous works include Claire of the Sea Light, a stunning work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl has gone missing; Brother, I’m Dying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a National Book Award finalist; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize.
Danticat has also received the MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant and been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper’s, The Nation and elsewhere. She has appeared in the films Stones in the Sun, The Foreigner’s Home, had a small cameo in Beloved directed by Oscar award winning director Jonathan Demme, and has worked on the documentaries, Girl Rising, The Agronomist, and Egalité for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution.
The following of Edwidge’s books have been chosen for First Year Common Reading Programs: Krik? Krak!, The Dew Breaker, Create Dangerously, and Brother, I’m Dying, which is also a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read book. Edwidge has crafted some talks around those specific books—some incorporating video and PowerPoint– for Common Reads or college-wide reading programs.
An Evening With Edwidge Danticat
Edwidge reads a selection, or a series of themed selections, from one of her fiction or nonfiction books, or presents newly created work or a talk suited to the occasion, and then takes questions from the audience.
A Conversation with Edwidge Danticat
Edwidge is placed in conversation with an interviewer of the host’s choice on the range of subjects addressed in her work, then takes questions from the audience.
Once Upon an Endless Night: Storytelling and the legends that made me a writer.
Edwidge traces her life and writing from her childhood in Haiti during the Duvalier dictatorship to her arrival in new York at age 12 to be reunited with parents she barely knew, to writing the first lines of an essay in high school, which lead to her first novel Breath, Eyes, Memory. All throughout her faith in the power of storytelling has always remained her guide. What led her to begin writing? What keeps her writing in a whole range of genres from picture books to adult novels? This is a talk with pieces of Edwidge’s lyrical writing weaved in throughout.
The Art of Death, Writing the Final Story
Framed around a profound and humorous prayer written in the voice of her dying mother, and pulling from her critically-acclaimed book of the same title, Edwidge addresses in this talk what it is like to witness and document the death of a loved one, while confronting larger issues of mortality, mourning and grief, both in life and in literature.
Praise for Edwidge Danticat
Edwidge set such a lovely tone for the rest of her Conference and her speech was as carefully constructed as her books. We loved having her and have heard many good things! Thank you for helping to make it happen.— Theatre Communications Group
The keynote talk delivered by award-winning prolific author Edwidge Danticat was also very moving as she advocated lyrically for the people currently approaching the US Southern borders in the caravans, and for all whose lives are in transit.— Alessandra Pomarico, ArtsEverywhere
Praise for Everything Inside
Powerful, finely crafted. Home, they say, is where the heart is. For those who leave their native land, that can mean their hearts never heal. That's true of many of the characters in this new collection. Like Danticat herself, many in these stories are members of the Haitian diaspora—they live in Florida and New York, but their emotional ties to Haiti are profound. When a home nursing attendant in Miami hears of her ex-husband’s lover’s abduction, she makes an offer of help—[with] surprising results. A young woman who teaches high school in Brooklyn has never met her father; [now] he’s dying and wants to see her, and she finds something she never imagined. In the final story, life passes before [a construction worker's] eyes; Danticat gives us a warm portrait of the life he made, and she renders his death even more heartbreaking by revealing how his undocumented status will shape it . . . Danticat’s characters have fled [their] island nation, but her luckiest wanderers find their heart’s home, wherever it may be.— Tampa Bay Times
Immensely rewarding, clear-eyed, gorgeous. . . a stunning collection that features some of the best writing of Danticat's brilliant career. Everything Inside is a relentlessly honest book about how we say goodbye; about compassion and cruelty in the face of death; about, as Danticat writes, ‘loves that outlive lovers.’ The reader feels connected to Danticat's characters, but she refuses to manipulate her audience with anything sentimental or overly pat. Her writing is, as usual, superb. There are no wasted words; she writes with both economy and urgency, never shying away from difficult questions. . . Danticat beautifully traces how we reckon with losses that haven't yet occurred; she captures the feeling of mourning a person you never had a chance to love; she explores how people come to terms with death, both their loved ones' and their own. ‘While we are still alive, we are the ones who get to write the story,’ Danticat wrote in [her memoir] The Art of Death. That is what she has done in Everything Inside, and unsurprisingly, she does it perfectly.— NPR
A beautiful book. Danticat’s birthplace, Haiti, emerges in almost mythic fashion. It is a land where a life can be changed, a land that exists both in the past and the present, whose essence may be carried as far as Miami or Brooklyn. The unreliability of the human heart connects many of these stories. If, as [some] stories demonstrate, Haiti takes, others reveal how much it also gives. What brings the stories together is Danticat’s precise yet emotionally charged prose, and the way she has curated this volume to create a satisfying whole.— Aminatta Forna, The New York Times Book Review
Extraordinary: spare, evocative, moving. Danticat tackles the complexities of diaspora with lyrical grace. This collection draws on her exceptional strengths as a storyteller . . . She is a master of economy; she has always possessed the remarkable ability to build singular fictional worlds in a matter of sentences. These are stories of lives upended by tragedies big and small; Danticat attends to the ways families are made and unmade . . . She asks her readers to witness the integrity of her subjects as they excavate beauty and hope from uncertainty and loss.— Kirkus (starred review)
Outstanding; deeply memorable . . . funny, charming, touching . . . Set among the Haitian ‘dyaspora,’ the tales describe the complicated lives of people who live in one place but are drawn elsewhere. Families fracture and reform . . . In propulsive prose, and with great compassion, Danticat writes both of her characters’ losses and of their determination to continue.— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Internationally acclaimed Danticat returns with a vivid collection of powerful short stories that weave together tales of tenacity, family and unexpected love.— Bridgette Bartlett Royall, Essence
Vigorous, compelling . . . Everything Inside provides a storyteller’s insight to how migration to and from the Caribbean affected people’s lives, personalities, and relationships.— Jianan Qian, The Millions
National Book Award finalist Danticat uses eight short stories to dissect the family unit, diving into marriage, parenthood and young love. The collection tests the strength of familial bonds as characters deal with tragedies of all sizes. Danticat takes readers to her birthplace of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as well as Miami and an unnamed part of the Caribbean in these narratives that probe the intersections of community, compassion and loss.— Annabel Gutterman, Time “11 New Books You Should Read in August”
Rich, vibrant. Haiti is the emotional core of this collection, though the characters roam the world. Lovers reconcile after a catastrophe, a daughter meets her dying father for the first and last time and a family reunites at a baby’s christening.— Joumana Khatib, The New York Times “11 New Books to Watch For in August"
Haunting, profound—an answered prayer for those who have long treasured Danticat’s essential contributions to the Caribbean literary canon. These eight intimate tales, centered primarily around the diverse experiences of women in Port-au-Prince and Miami’s Haitian diaspora, probe what it means to love a deeply troubled country, to leave it, and to then come home. Danticat’s characters feel not like strangers, but close friends. How does an artist write so deftly from the outside about people’s interior lives? Everything Inside is an answer to that question: This remarkable writer shows us how— Alexia Arthurs, O, the Oprah Magazine
Haunting . . . Danticat once again urges readers out of comfort zones to bear witness to urgent topics—and alchemizes sorrows and tragedies into opportunities for enlightenment.— Terry Hong, Booklist (starred review)
Danticat is a master . . . In these narratives of unexpected romance, personal tragedy, and family complications, her compassionate sensitivity to the ties that bind us shines through.— Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire
Vast, moving, and intimate . . . Everything Inside explores all at once the full scope of human experience [and] tackles head on the complexity and impossibility of feeling.— Kevin Chau, Lit Hub
Praise for The Farming of Bones
[With] hallucinatory vigor and a sense of mission … Danticat capably evokes the shock with which a small personal world is disrupted by military mayhem…. The Farming of Bones offers ample confirmation of Edwidge Danticat’s considerable talents.— The New York Times Book Review
A passionate story … Richly textured, deeply personal details particularize each of Danticat’s characters and give poignancy to their lives. Often, her tales take on the quality of a legend.— The Seattle Times
Praise for The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story
The author lends a deeply personal touch to this study. . . . Danticat takes on an unpleasant topic with sensitivity and passion.— Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Danticat, in her slim, absorbing volume on this enormous subject, one in the “art of” series published by Graywolf Press, takes a tour of the dark side, holding up for view the guises that death has assumed in works by Leo Tolstoy, Gabriel García Márquez, Albert Camus, Toni Morrison and others, and offering her own reflections.— The New York Times Book Review
What’s important about reading great writing about death—or in the case of The Art of Death, reading about reading about it—is that it teaches us how to live.— Chicago Tribune
Praise for Claire of the Sea Light
[An] extraordinary talent in full flower ...There’s a Faulknerian quality to Claire of the Sea Light, in the way it examines and presents the lives, plural, and life, singular collective, of a specifically imagined local community from multiple points of view, showing how human stories and lives ramify through and across each other in ways both touching and tragic...Astonishing...True and beautiful.— Ethan Casey, The Huffington Post
In her memoir Brother, I’m Dying, Danticat wrote about her own sense of abandonment as a child, when first her father and then her mother left for New York, leaving her with relatives. In Danticat’s own story, and this novel’s story of Claire, love endures in the face of death and departure and disappointment.— Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Books by Edwidge Danticat
Media About Edwidge Danticat
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- Edwidge Danticat travels from Miami, FL
“Astounding . . . written with the kind of emotional precision that leaves you gasping. We meet a whole cast of characters who feel absolutely real: so striking in their ordinariness, so complex in their humanity. Danticat is a fiction master.”
—Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed