From the age of four, award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for America. And so she was both elated and saddened when, at twelve, she joined her parents and youngest brothers in New York City. As Edwidge made a life in a new country, adjusting to being far away from so many who she loved, she and her family continued to fear for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorated.
In 2004, they entered into a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. Brother I'm Dying is an astonishing true-life epic, told on an intimate scale by one of our finest writers.
From Publishers WeeklyStarred Review. In a single day in 2004, Danticat (Breath, Eyes, Memory; The Farming of Bones) learns that she's pregnant and that her father, André, is dying—a stirring constellation of events that frames this Haitian immigrant family's story, rife with premature departures and painful silences. When Danticat was two, André left Haiti for the U.S., and her mother followed when Danticat was four. The author and her brother could not join their parents for eight years, during which André's brother Joseph raised them. When Danticat was nine, Joseph—a pastor and gifted orator—lost his voice to throat cancer, making their eventual separation that much harder, as he wouldn't be able to talk with the children on the phone. Both André and Joseph maintained a certain emotional distance through these transitions. Danticat writes of a Haitian adage, Â 'When you bathe other people's children, you should wash one side and leave the other side dirty.' I suppose this saying cautions those who care for other people's children not to give over their whole hearts. In the end, as Danticat prepares to lose her ailing father and give birth to her daughter, Joseph is threatened by a volatile sociopolitical clash and forced to flee Haiti. He's then detained by U.S. Customs and neglected for days. He unexpectedly dies a prisoner while loved ones await news of his release. Poignant and never sentimental, this elegant memoir recalls how a family adapted and reorganized itself over and over, enduring and succeeding to remain kindred in spite of living apart. (Sept.)
From Bookmarks Magazine Edwidge Danticat's father and uncle chose very different paths: the former struggled to make a new life for himself in America, while the latter remained in the homeland he paradoxically loved. In following their lives and their impact on future generations, Danticat's powerful family memoir explores how the private and the political, the past and the present, intersect. The most poignant section focuses on Joseph's tragic trip to the United States at age 81, but Danticat also tells a wider story about family and exile, the Haitian diaspora, the Duvalier regime, and post-9/11 immigration policy. Emotionally resonant and exceptionally clear-eyed, Brother, I'm Dying offers insight into a talented writer, her family history, and the injustices of the modern world.
From Booklist*Starred Review* In 2004, Danticat's uncle Joseph, a pastor in poor health at 81, fled Haiti after his church was burned, only to die under appalling circumstances in Florida's Krome detention center. Danticat drew on aspects of her uncle's life in her last novel, The Dew Breaker (2004), and now tells the true story straight in this consuming family memoir. Marshaling her considerable storytelling skills, Danticat vividly evokes the volatile Port-au-Prince neighborhood she called home after her parents emigrated to America and left her in the loving care of Joseph, her father's brother, and his wife. As she chronicles her uncle's experiences in politics and the church and the throat cancer that claimed his ability to speak, as well as her parents' lives in New York before and after she was reunited with them, Haiti's bloody history and ongoing turmoil form her narrative's molten core while voice becomes its leitmotif. In a shattering yet redemptive manifestation of life's cycles, as Danticat's uncle enters his final days, her father is slowly silenced by lung disease, and she awaits the birth of her daughter. This meticulously crafted, deeply felt remembrance is a homage to one remarkable family, and all who persevere, seeking justice and channeling love. Seaman, Donna --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Remarkable. . . . A fierce, haunting book about exile and loss and family love.” —The New York Times"With a storyteller's magnetic force . . . [Danticat] gives voice to an attachment too deep for words.” —O, The Oprah Magazine“Powerful. . . . Danticat employs the charms of a storyteller and the authority of a witness to evoke the political forces and personal sacrifices behind her parents' journey to this country and her uncle's decision to stay behind.” —The Washington Post Book World“Heartwrenching, intimate. . . . Through the seemingly effortless grace of Danticat's words, a family's tragedy is transformed into a promise of collective hope.” —San Francisco Chronicle“Her power of language is so great, and at the same time, so subtle, that even those that cannot see her or understand her stories will be transformed by her impact on their world.” —Walter Mosley