The Resource The dew breaker, Edwidge Danticat

The dew breaker, Edwidge Danticat

Label
The dew breaker
Title
The dew breaker
Statement of responsibility
Edwidge Danticat
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Tone
Writing style
Award
Booklist Editors' Choice, 2004.
Review
  • /*Starred Review*/ Three Haitian women living in New York drink to “the terrible days behind us and the uncertain days ahead,” thus succinctly denoting the resonant theme of Danticat’s beautifully lucid fourth work of fiction: the baffling legacy of violence and the unanswerable questions of exile. In compelling and richly imagined linked stories of the Haitian diaspora, the author of The Farming of the Bones (1999) portrays the children of parents who either perpetuated or suffered the cruelties of the island’s bloody dictatorships, young women and men who struggle to make sense of the madness that poisoned their childhoods. The book’s pivotal, and most riveting, sections portray a man who works for the state as a torturer, or “dew breaker,” until a catastrophic encounter with a heroic preacher induces him to flee to New York, where his sculptor daughter finally learns of his past under caustically ironic circumstances. Danticat’s masterful depiction of the emotional and spiritual reverberations of tyranny and displacement reveals the intricate mesh of relationships that defines every life, and the burden of traumatic inheritances: the crimes and tragedies that one generation barely survives, the next must reconcile. -- Donna Seaman (BookList, 02-15-2004, p1033)
  • Haitian-born Danticat's third novel (after The Farming of Bones and Breath, Eyes, Memory ) focuses on the lives affected by a "dew breaker," or torturer of Haitian dissidents under Duvalier's regime. Each chapter reveals the titular man from another viewpoint, including that of his grown daughter, who, on a trip she takes with him to Florida, learns the secret of his violent past and those of the Haitian boarders renting basement rooms in his Brooklyn home. This structure allows Danticat to move easily back and forth in time and place, from 1967 Haiti to present-day Florida, tracking diverse threads within the larger narrative. Some readers may think that what she gains in breadth she loses in depth; this is a slim book, and Danticat does not always stay in one character's mind long enough to fully convey the complexities she seeks. The chapters—most of which were published previously as stories, with the first three appearing in the New Yorker —can feel more like evocative snapshots than richly textured portraits. The slow accumulation of details pinpointing the past's effects on the present makes for powerful reading, however, and Danticat is a crafter of subtle, gorgeous sentences and scenes. As the novel circles around the dew breaker, moving toward final episodes in which, as a young man and already dreaming of escape to the U.S., he performs his terrible work, the impact on the reader hauntingly, ineluctably grows. 60,000 first printing. (Mar. 15) --Staff (Reviewed February 23, 2004) (Publishers Weekly, vol 251, issue 8, p49)
  • /* Starred Review */ For her latest novel, the Haitian-born Danticat draws on her early childhood during the Duvaliers' dictatorships. Dew breaker was a name given to members of the tonton macouts, who tortured and killed Haitians on behalf of the Duvaliers; Danticat's protagonist gained special notoriety for his barbarity. After the collapse of Baby Doc Duvalier's regime, he fled to New York City, but neither he nor his victims can escape the past. Though the dew breaker is the centerpiece of the novel, Danticat successfully integrates his story with the stories of those who survived his brutality—and those whose family members did not. The clear and resonant prose moves easily from past to present (and back again), but the past is this novel's strongest focus. Remembering his vicious tactics, one victim remarks, "You never know anyone as intimately as you know someone like this"—a peculiar intimacy Danticat explores before ending with a surprising twist; the dew breaker marries his last victim's sister. This tour de force will certainly earn Danticat the same high acclaim she gained from her three previous works, which include National Book Award finalist Krik? Krak! Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/03.]—Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Lib., Eugene --Faye A. Chadwell (Reviewed December 15, 2003) (Library Journal, vol 128, issue 20, p165)
  • /* Starred Review */ A torturer-in-hiding examined from multiple angles by family and victims.In this third novel from Danticat (The Farming of Bones, 1998, etc.), the past has a way of intruding on everyday life no matter how all of the characters try to stop it. Of course, when the past is as horrific as it is here, that should come as no surprise. The title comes from a Haitian term for torturer, the black-hearted Tonton Macoutes who enforced the Duvalier regime (" 'They'd also come before dawn, as the dew was settling on the leaves, and they'd take you away' "). The particular dew breaker at the heart of this story is an old man when we first meet him, on a trip he's taking with his artist daughter down to Florida to deliver a sculpture she'd been commissioned to make by a famous Haitian-American actress. Each chapter brings another view of this same man, who escaped his crimes in Haiti to hide out as a barber in Brooklyn, and each is related by different people who knew him—his wife, a lover, one of his victims. The structure, however, isn't necessarily one of slowly revealed mystery, an approach that could have cheapened the tale's formidable emotional impact. Even though we learn more and more about the dew breaker as the story progresses—and by the end have been firsthand witnesses to his foul methods—Danticat seems ultimately less interested in him than in those around him, those who speak personally about the suffering he caused. It's a wise choice, in that there is comparatively little that can be learned from practitioners of evil, whose motives usually come down to simple desires for money or power. Danticat's voice is that of a seasoned veteran, her pages wise and saddened, struggling on "the pendulum between regret and forgiveness."Searing fiction with the lived-in feel of the best memoir. (Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2004)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
121776
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1969-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Danticat, Edwidge
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Haitian Americans
  • Torture
  • Haiti
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Label
The dew breaker, Edwidge Danticat
Instantiates
Publication
Distribution
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Contents
The book of the dead -- Seven -- Water child -- The book of miracles -- Night talkers -- The bridal seamtress -- Monkey tails -- The funeral singer -- The dew breaker
Dimensions
22 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
244 pages
Isbn
9781400041145
Isbn Type
(hd.cov.)
Lccn
2003060788
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
System control number
  • ocm52838918
  • OCoLC
Label
The dew breaker, Edwidge Danticat
Publication
Distribution
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Contents
The book of the dead -- Seven -- Water child -- The book of miracles -- Night talkers -- The bridal seamtress -- Monkey tails -- The funeral singer -- The dew breaker
Dimensions
22 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
244 pages
Isbn
9781400041145
Isbn Type
(hd.cov.)
Lccn
2003060788
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
System control number
  • ocm52838918
  • OCoLC

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