Edwidge Danticat is a popular Haitian-American writer who has succeeded in gaining acclamations from different sections of the society. Danticat writes extensively on issues that affect women, sexuality and immigrants. Danticat has learnt a lot from her own experiences and is gifted with deep understanding of literature. Danticat has won several awards for her fierce and issues based writing. This paper proposes a discussion on Edwidge Danticat and further analyses her literary works.
Danticat was born in Haiti on 19th January, 1969. Her parents migrated into United States without her when she was just nine years old. Danticat and her brother stayed with their aunt. Danticat moved to US to stay with her parents when she was 12 years old. Being an immigrant, it was difficult for Danticat to adjust in new surroundings which diverted her mind towards literature. ‘A Haitian-American Christmas: Cremace and Creole Theatre’ was her first writing, which was published when Danticat was only 14. Danticat completed her Bachelor of Arts in French literature and earned a Master of Arts in creative writing in year 1993 (Edwidge Danticat Biography).
‘Breath, Eyes, Memory’ was the first novel of Danticat that was published in 1994. Danticat short stories were published in around 25 magazines and periodicals, and her works were translated into multiple languages. She also teaches creative writing at NY University and University of Miami. Some of her popular work and short stories are: ‘The Farming of Bones’, ‘The Book of the Dead’, ‘Brother, I'm Dying’, ‘Ghosts’, ‘Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work’, ‘Claire of the Sea Light’ and ‘Quality Control’ (Edwidge Danticat Biography).
Observing and analysing literary works of Danticat suggests that her writing is based on certain issues and themes such as national identity, women related issues, mother-daughter relationship and diasporic politics. In her novel, “Breath, Eyes, Memory” she appears establishing the relationship between nationalistic agenda and women. The author also indicates a bizarre custom in her novel. Danticat describes how people used to inspect the virginity of girls since generations by inserting fingers in their private parts. These virgin girls were supposed to work for the state “as deadly weapons”.
Danticat focuses on women related issues in particular. Women related issues get substantial amount of significance in almost all of her works. Relationship of mother and daughter is another prominent theme of her stories and novels. Mother daughter relationship has been significantly described in her novel, “Breath, Eyes, Memory”. Mothers used to share very close relationship with their daughters. Mothers also had a duty to keep their daughters’ virginity intact in order to save them from any problem (Danticat).
Danticat literary works are influenced by her dual nationality and bicultural identity. She is highly influenced by her Haitian roots and has indicated the same in her first novel, “Breath, Eyes, Memory”. She mentions various customs that were practiced in Haiti and other places in Caribbean. She also has used various social, customary and geographic features that are present in Haiti and Caribbean only. Danticat affection for diasporic identity is clearly visible in almost all of her literary works (Danticat).
Her famous family memoir, “Brother, I’m Dying” she describes how people struggle in other parts of the world to live. The author describes her own life and family bonding in a realistic manner. Danticat is deeply associated with her culture and keeps expressing her affection for the place where she spent her childhood. Her diasporic affection is one of the reasons why she keeps expressing her views in favour of immigrants from other parts of the world (Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying).
Writing in favour of Haitians and immigrants is not an easy task for Edwidge Danticat. Depicting and highlighting poverty and such issues has never been an easy task for writers who live somewhere outside and write about the poverty of their original places. Danticat is often blamed by Americans that she lives in United States and keeps talking about Haitians and immigrants. At the other hand, she is often blamed by Haitians who say that she exploits their poverty for her own benefits and defame her culture in order to earn money. Danticat is often criticised for portraying poverty of Haitians as if they are the poorest people of the earth.
Without caring much about her criticism, Danticat keeps writing on Haitians, especially women of that region. She argues in favour of immigrants and expresses her thoughts in laws that favour them. She has written many articles in different newspapers and argues in favour of millions of people who are deprived of their rights because of discriminations. Danticat has been given numerous big awards and various acclamations for her works. She was declared as one of gutsiest women by magazine Jane. New York Times suggested Danticat as one of people to keep a watch “30 under 30” (Edwidge Danticat Biography).
Danticat in her story Ghost describes the Haitian slum that is exploited by corrupt authorities and ruling class. Ghost is used as a symbol by the author to portray the true cruel picture of slum people. The story is marvellous, utilized exotic settings but filled with stress and tension. The story is about Pascal Dorien who lives in Bel Air, an area that is run by gangs. The author very efficiently describes Bel Air and its surroundings in a manner that a reader can visualize the settings. ‘Ghost’ story put forward the slum families and gangs to the readers. Danticate through her work informed readers about the realities of slum areas like Bel Air (Danticat).
Her life, struggle and success may pave the way of millions who are stuck in the remote places and are struggling to come out of the poverty. Danticat was not an English speaker and she learnt English only when she migrated into the New York City at the age of twelve. Her determination gave everything to her what she desired. She is a successful author and keeps participating in various social activities. She participated in creating awareness on elections and importance of voting among American-Haitian population.
After going through literary works of Edwidge Danticat, it can be concluded that she is a gifted writer and has got the talent. She has established herself as a writer after fighting various odds of her life. She has delivered some famous stories and novels that represent a number of issues. Her writing is issue based and describes problems of women, sexuality and gender related issues. Danticat gives voice to millions of people who are oppressed as, well as, deprived due to various discriminations through her thoughts and expressing them through her fierce writing. She extensively writes in favour of immigrants, Haitians and especially Haitian women. She is considered as one of talented young American authors of current times.
Danticat, Edwidge. Breath, Eyes, Memory. USA: Soho Press, 2003.
Danticat, Edwidge. Brother, I'm Dying. USA: Scribe Publications, 2009.
Danticat, Edwidge. "Ghosts." 24 November 2008. The New Yorker. 27 April 2015 <http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/11/24/ghosts-10>.
"Edwidge Danticat Biography." 2015. The Famous People. 27 April 2015 <http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/edwidge-danticat-5866.php>.