Pretend that this is the time of miracles and we believed in them.
Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat is a collection of short stories that follow the women of a matrilineal line. Starting in Haiti, each story comes from a different generation and each is like a mini history lesson, without the boring. They show the pervasive beliefs in superstition and voodoo, the poverty and the institutionalized brutality that has plagued Haiti since Columbus set foot on the island. They’re almost exclusively heartbreaking stories full of love, hate, hopes, dreams and despair.
One story is about two young lovers who are separated under the brutal dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier and the Tonton Macoute. Another is a story of a mother who has been imprisoned for life after being accused of witchcraft, an allegation so common they have a jail entirely dedicated to housing these women.
Towards the end of the book the stories are about a mother who has emigrated from Haiti to the US and her two daughters, one born in Haiti and the other in the US. These stories show a spectrum of adaptation to US culture and how they are able to blend their own cultural identities with western norms.
I think I found this book on a suggested reading list compiled by Paul Farmer. I’ve been meaning to read it for years now and I’m so happy I finally got around to it. Although depressing, the stories were so great and well written and informative. Although I’ve read a fair amount about Haitian history, it’s a completely different experience when a story is able to bring that history to life and make it more personal. I can’t wait to read more by this author.
The sky in all its glory had been there for eons even before she came into the world, and there it would stay with its crashing stars and moody clouds.