When Haitians tell a story, they say "Krik?" and the eager listeners answer "Krak!" In Krik? Krak! In her second novel, Edwidge Danticat establishes herself as the latest heir to that narrative tradition with nine stories that encompass both the cruelties and the high ideals of Haitian life. They tell of women who continue loving behind prison walls and in the face of unfathomable loss; of a people who resist the brutality of their rulers through the powers of imagination. The result is a collection that outrages, saddens, and transports the reader with its sheer beauty.


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Reviews

From Booklist 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 Library Journal 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

From School Library Journal 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

From Booklist 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

"Steeped in the myths and lore that sustained generations of Haitians, Krik? Krak! demonstrates the healing power of storytelling." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Virtually flawless. . . . If the news from Haiti is too painful to read, read this book instead and understand the place more deeply than you ever thought possible." --Washington Post Book World

"Spare, luminous stories that read like poems. . . . These. . . tales more than confirm the promise of her magical first novel. A silenced Haiti has once again found its literary voice." --Paule Marshall, author of Daughters

The Creole culture of Haiti and the African-American experience are at the heart of Edwidge Danticat's fiction. Here stories are intimate histories about the raw longing of people for some chance at peace and happiness for themselves and their imprisoned society, about existence contorted by forced separation, and of personal lives shot through with terror. They are stories of an ancient people, at once proselytized and bullied, who actually live their lives in the embrace of overriding mythic powers and rites of passage. -- Midwest Book Review

"The voices of Krik? Krak!. . . encapsulate whole lifetimes of experience. Harsh, passionate, lyrical." --Seattle Times