Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

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Arriving one year after the Haitian-American's first novel (Breath, Eyes, Memory) alerted critics to her compelling voice, these 10 stories, some of which have appeared in small literary journals, confirm Danticat's reputation as a remarkably gifted writer. Examining the lives of ordinary Haitians, particularly those struggling to survive under the brutal Duvalier regime, Danticat illuminates the distance between people's desires and the stifling reality of their lives. A profound mix of Catholicism and voodoo spirituality informs the tales, bestowing a mythic importance on people described in the opening story, "Children of the Sea," as those "in this world whose names don't matter to anyone but themselves." The ceaseless grip of dictatorship often leads men to emotionally abandon their families, like the husband in "A Wall of Fire Rising," who dreams of escaping in a neighbor's hot-air balloon. The women exhibit more resilience, largely because of their insistence on finding meaning and solidarity through storytelling; but Danticat portrays these bonds with an honesty that shows that sisterhood, too, has its power plays. In the book's final piece, "Epilogue: Women Like Us," she writes: "Are there women who both cook and write? Kitchen poets, they call them. They slip phrases into their stew and wrap meaning around their pork before frying it. They make narrative dumplings and stuff their daughter's mouths so they say nothing more." The stories inform and enrich one another, as the female characters reveal a common ancestry and ties to the fictional Ville Rose. In addition to the power of Danticat's themes, the book is enhanced by an element of suspense (we're never certain, for example, if a rickety boat packed with refugees introduced in the first tale will reach the Florida coast). Spare, elegant and moving, these stories cohere into a superb collection.
 

About Edwidge Danticat

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Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1969. Her parents emigrated to New York when she was a small child, while she and her brother remained in Haiti, where they were raised by an aunt and uncle. At the age of twelve she moved to Brooklyn to be with her parents. Danticat began writing as a teenager, and her essays and stories have appeared in many periodicals. She received a degree in French literature from Barnard College and an MFA in writing from Brown University. At Brown she completed work on Breath, Eyes, Memory, which she had begun as an undergraduate, and the novel was published in 1994. After finishing her master's degree, Danticat worked in Clinica Estetico, the production office of film director Jonathan Demme, who has a consuming interest in Haiti. She read and wrote scripts and continues to monitor and occasionally protest American policy in Haiti. In late 1994, Danticat returned to Haiti for the first time in thirteen years, to see President Aristide restored to power. Danticat is the recipient of a James Michener Fellowship and awards from Seventeen magazine and from Essence. She is also the author of a collection of Haitian stories, Krik? Krak!, which was a National Book Award finalist, and the novel, The Farming of Bones (1998). She lives in New York City.
 
Published April 17, 1996 by Vintage. 224 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Krik? Krak!

Kirkus Reviews

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A debut collection from Danticat (the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, 1994) that movingly brings to life the history, hopes, and human experience of Haitians.

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Publishers Weekly

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Arriving one year after the Haitian-American's first novel (Breath, Eyes, Memory) alerted critics to her compelling voice, these 10 stories, some of which have appeared in small literary journals, confirm Danticat's reputation as a remarkably gifted writer.

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Project MUSE

This article explores Danticat's development of the theme by presenting a reading of "A Wall of Fire Rising" in relation to the preceding story, "Nineteen Thirty-Seven," and also in connection with the flying Africans legend, Haitian revolutionary folklore, and twentieth-century literary represen...

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Project MUSE

This article explores Danticat's development of the theme by presenting a reading of "A Wall of Fire Rising" in relation to the preceding story, "Nineteen Thirty-Seven," and also in connection with the flying Africans legend, Haitian revolutionary folklore, and twentieth-century literary represen...

| Read Full Review of Krik? Krak!

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