Edwidge Danticat- 2010
Haitian-American novelist and short story writer who has won many national awards and honors
A Haitian Voice
By Kevin Singh (General Business, Class of 2024)
Growing up both in Haiti and in Brooklyn, Edwidge Danticat’s writing was heavily influenced by her experiences in both places, and by the numerous Haitian books she began to read over in Brooklyn in order to connect herself back to Haiti. Edwidge Danticat’s writing takes pieces from her own experiences and the experiences of other Haitian women. Her writing gives Haitian women a voice and something that they can relate to, making her an important pillar for Haitian women.
In her writing, Edwidge Danticat brings attention to women and their relationships. In Danticat's literary works, she writes about the feelings women go through and how they interact with their family and friends. In the short story, Sunrise, Sunset, it talks about how one immigrant, Haitian woman thinks that being U.S.-born makes her children weak and feeble-minded. Danticat writes, “Carol tried so hard to protect her U.S.-born children from these stories that they are now incapable of overcoming any kind of sadness” (Danticat, “‘Sunrise, Sunset’”). The old woman, Carole, feels that her children might be mentally and emotionally weak. They never experienced what Carole experienced. Danticat writes, “Growing up in a country ruled by a merciless dictator, Carole watched her neighbors being dragged out of their houses by the dictator’s denim-uniformed henchmen” (Edwidge Danticat, “‘Sunrise, Sunset’”). Carole had gone through horrible experiences that so many Haitian immigrants like herself had come to America to escape from. It is in pieces of writing like this that Edwidge Danticat showcases the amount of fortitude, but also the sadness that immigrant women like Carole must silently harbor within themselves. Danticat brings awareness to the feelings of Haitian women within their relationships.
Danticat’s writing also provided relatability and a voice to many Haitian women. Her unique writing style bore the fruit of such writing that some Haitian women even felt saved by it. In Edwidge Danticat: The Haitian Diasporic Imaginary by Nadège T. Clitandre, Clitandre interviews Danticat. Danticat said this about the impact of her very first novel in 1994, Breath, Eyes, Memory: “And these young women told me that they took Breath, Eyes, Memory with them from home to home or juvenile place to juvenile place... they found solace, and some even found a voice in it” (Clitandre 179). Danticat became a pillar and a voice for both Haitian women and the overall Haitian community. Her works gave Haitian women something they could read and relate to, enjoying the writing while seeing themselves in it. Danticat’s voice became more than just her one voice.
In conclusion, Edwidge Danticat and her writing gave numerous Haitian women a voice and something that was relatable. Reading her work, they could see themselves and their experiences being told. Researching this author and reading some of her work has made me respect her and the way she writes. Danticat’s writing is impactful and truly remarkable, and it conveys well the feelings of the characters, so that the reader can feel the message of the piece of writing while still enjoying the writing itself.
Clitandre, Nadège T. Edwidge Danticat : The Haitian Diasporic Imaginary: Millersville University Library. Ebscohost.com, University of Virginia Press, 2018, eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=86c69c3d-af1c-407ebf58355f6c2f1d5a%40sessionmgr101&bdata=JmF1dGh0eXBlPXNzbyZjdXN0aWQ9czM5MTU4OTAmc2l0ZT1lZHMtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=nlebk&AN=1917337. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.
Edwidge Danticat. “‘Sunrise, Sunset.’” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 11 Sept. 2017, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/09/18/sunrise-sunset. Accessed 9 Feb. 2021.
“Flickr.” Flickr, 20190924SM055.jpg | Edwidge Danticat speaks with Marie Arana… | Flickr, 11 Mar. 2021, www.flickr.com/photos/library-of-congress-life/48794720061/. Accessed 11 Mar. 2021.