Crafting Gentleness

Monday, June 30, 2008

Edwidge Danticat

"I felt broken at the end of the meeting, but a little closer to being free. I didn't feel guilty about burning my mother's name anymore. I knew my hurt and hers were links in a long chain and if she hurt me, it was because she was hurt, too.

"It was up to me to avoid my turn in the fire. It was up to me to make sure that my daughter never slept with ghosts, never lived with nightmares, and never had her name burnt in the flames."

Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994:203).

I finished this novel on the bus home from Cambridge (UK) the other day. I once went to listen to Edwidge Danticat speak, in Santa Barbara, about four years ago, and I was very impressed. I remember who I went with, and I remember that I asked Edwidge something about the ability of novelists to address important issues in ways that many academics might envy. I can't remember what she said. I had no idea at that time of the echoes that would ripple through her writing for me by the time I got around to reading. As it happens, I came across this book in a shop in Derry, at the most unlikely of times, at the most apposite of times. I suppose sometimes books find us. Breath, Eyes, Memory is the kind of novel that perhaps requires the wearing of emotional armour for the reading, but its heart, wisdom, and embrace of possibility and hope makes the journey worth every intake of breath.

More information:,6000,1355196,00.html


Post a Comment

<< Home