Krik? krak!

Edwidge Danticat, 1969-

Book - 2015

"Edwidge Danticat's only short story collection. Gorgeous 10th anniversary edition--complete with a new story! 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 s...tory, "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." These 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"--

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New York : Soho Press [2015]
Main Author
Edwidge Danticat, 1969- (-)
20th anniversary edition
Physical Description
221, 24 pages ; 21 cm
  • Children of the sea
  • Nineteen thirty-seven
  • A wall of fire rising
  • Night women
  • Between the pool and the gardenias
  • The missing peace
  • Seeing things simply
  • New York day women
  • Caroline's wedding
  • Epilogue : Women like us
  • In the old days.
Review by Booklist Review

Danticat, a young Haitian American writer, was widely praised for her debut novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994), and her reputation will continue to grow with the publication of this steady-handed yet devastating set of short stories. Danticat writes about the violence and despair of Haiti with precision and directness. The collection's title comes from a Haitian storytelling tradition in which the "young ones will know what came before them. They ask Krik? We say Krak! Our stories are kept in our hearts." This passing of stories from one generation to the next, especially from mother to daughter, forges a life-sustaining chain across the awful abyss of Haiti's brutality. The treasuring of memories and legends is at the heart of each of Danticat's tales and is often the only legacy anyone can hold on to. In "Children of the Sea," a young couple is forced apart, threatened with death. About to die at sea, he wonders if she'll remember their "silly dreams." In Haiti, where politics are lethal and women are condemned to suffering and death by men who envy and fear their powers, hope does indeed seem ludicrous, but in Danticat's fiction, mind and spirit soar above the pain and horrors of life. --Donna Seaman

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Danticat's collection of stories detailing daily life under dictatorship in Haiti was a finalist for the National Book Award. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

This collection of previously published but interrelated short stories presents the harsh reality of daily Haitian life under a state-approved terrorist regime. Despite the harshness, Danticat beautifully balances the poverty, despair, and brutality her characters endure with magic and myth. For many characters, she also explores the inevitable clash between traditions of Haitian home life and a new American culture. Principally mothers and daughters confront each other in these cultural and intergenerational wars, wars that would be emotionally devastating were it not for the indomitable presence of love. This theme is treated best in the work's longest piece "Caroline's Wedding." krik? krak! is Danticat's second publishing venture and second triumph folowing her well-received first novel Breath, Eyes, Memory (LJ 3/15/94). Highly recommended.‘Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon, Eugene (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

YA‘Danticat, born under Haitian dictatorship, moved to the U.S. 12 years ago. Many of the stories in this moving collection reflect the misery she has observed from afar and leave readers with a deep sadness for her native country. Survivors at sea in a too-small, leaky boat endure any indignity for the chance at escape. Selections about those remaining in Haiti have a dreamlike quality. A woman must watch her mother rot in prison for political crimes. A young father longs so much to fly that he gives his life for a few moments in the air. A prostitute plies her trade while her son sleeps. ``New York Day Women'' shows what life might be like in the U.S. for immigrants without resources. Through unencumbered prose, the author explores the effects of politics on people and especially the consequences of oppression on women, the themes of which figure into each of these vignettes.‘Ginny Ryder, Lee High School, Springfield, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A debut collection from Danticat (the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, 1994) that movingly brings to life the history, hopes, and human experience of Haitians. Separation is the central fact of life for Danticat's characters. The isolated speakers of ``Children of the Sea'' are lovers, one of whom flees Haiti on a rickety boat while the other remains on the island hiding from terrorizing soldiers. They are doomed never again to be together in the flesh. Yet the story itself--the very act of Danticat's writing (mirrored in the refugee's journal-keeping)--permits their union, grants a space in which their voices mingle in an elegant duet. Where writing can't serve as a weapon against oblivion, there is hope, though this is double-edged. For Guy, the unemployed factory worker in ``A Wall of Fire Rising,'' a hot-air balloon represents an escape from devastating poverty, but the story ends by showing the bitter irony of his wish for flight. Most impressive is the dignity that the author reveals in her characters' spirituality. Omens and superstitions abound, which upper-class Haitians dismiss as ``voodoo nonsense that's holding us back.'' Danticat shows the wisdom and poignancy of these beliefs. The red panties that the mother in ``Caroline's Wedding'' commands her daughters to wear serve ostensibly to ward off sexual advances from their dead father's spirit. They are also an intimate form of mourning his loss. ``When you write,'' explains the speaker of ``Epilogue: Women Like Us,'' ``it's like braiding your hair. Taking a handful of coarse strands and attempting to bring them unity....Some of the braids are long, others short. Some are thick, others are thin.'' The remark describes this young Haitian writer's restless style, which is lyrical and elegiac, gothic and simple, sometimes all at once. Consistent, however, is her powerful empathy for her characters. Danticat's fiction is an antidote to headline abstractions, giving readers the gift of narrative through which to experience a people and a country as more than mere news.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.