Krik? Krak!

Book Reviews / Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

img_2994I’d never heard the words Kirk? Krak! and wondered what they meant when I picked this book up.  Reading the back cover, I learned that storytellers say Krik? and listeners say Krak! in Haiti.  Krik? Krak! is a poetic collection of connected short stories that explores the Haitian community in the United States and in Haiti.  The tradition of storytelling is a way of passing down moeurs and is an important part of Haitian culture.  This is specifically treated in this collection – passing culture from mother to daughter.

Krik? Krak! opens with a short story of Haitian refugees that are attempting to escape the political strife and horrors of their country and are floating out to sea desperately trying to reach Miami, while shedding their personal items along the way and in some cases their lives.  Each story is told from the poignant point of view of Haitians however surprising these stories have a strong sense of universality about them as well.  Everyone has a sense of home, a sense of family, of culture, and a desire for a good life.  Danticat does a brilliant job of integrating the recurring themes of water, suffering, and hope.  Water is often portrayed as a barrier.  The barrier that surrounds the island of Haiti and separates it from the Dominican Republic.  Just as the ocean must be crossed to attain a hopeful life in the United States, water is the notion of escape along with the reminder of all the Haitians that didn’t/don’t make it.

It’s very hard to read these stories and not think about the refugees fleeing the horrors of Syria and immigrating to Europe.  Leaving one’s country and having to find the balance between acceptance into a new country and preserving the culture that was left behind.  Danticat’s writing is infectious with a dynamism of superstition and it enlightens the reader to Haitian history.  I strongly recommend reading this short story collection to learn more about Haiti and its people but mostly to experience the passionate manner in which Danticat evokes the honesty, courage, sensitivity, and authenticity of their stories.

Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-American writer born in Port-au-Prince in 1969.  She was raised in Haiti by her aunt and uncle.  She finally joined her parens, who had left for the United States earlier, at the age of 12 in Brooklyn.  Danticat began writing at the age of 9 years old.  Her move to Brooklyn was difficult so she turned to literature for comfort.  Her first published writing in English was A Haitian-American Christmas: Cremace and Creole Theatre.   Some of the major themes that are dealt with in her writings are mother-daughter relationships, national identity, and Haitian diaspora.

She has been decorated with  countless literary awards and honorary degrees.  Having earned a Masters of Fine Arts from Brown University, Danticat has gone on to write many well-known titled books such as The Farming of the Bones, The Dew Breaker, and her latest novel Claire of the Sea Light.  On a high note, a young director named Easmanie Michel fell in love with Krik? Krak! and is working diligently to bring Edwidge Danticat’s short story Caroline’s Wedding to the big screen.  She believes that Danticat’s work will translate well on-screen and she has been entrusted to make it happen.  If you’re interested in keeping up with the new developments on this film project head over and check out Easmanie Michel’s Facebook page Caroline’s Wedding.


My Copy:  Krik? Krak!, paperback 224 pages

Rating: *****

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23 Replies to “Krik? Krak!”

  1. I was reading about how the Dominican Republic is trying to kick out Haitians and started researching Haitian authors. I found out about this author and this book popped up. I’m glad to know its a worthwhile read. I plan on reserving it at my library.

    1. Yes that’s true. There is even a mention of the Dominican Republic’s poor treatment of Haitians in the book. You should definitely pick it up. I’m sure you’re going to love it.

      1. I’m such a fan of women’s lit from the Caribbean, I’d love to explore it more as well, Simone Schwarz-Bart’s The Bridge of Beyond could well be my favourite book of the year, I wish she’d written more. I’m tempted to try one of the books she co-wrote with her husband, though unsure how much it will have been influenced by him, her voice is just fabulous as it is.

        I’d love to know what books you’re thinking of reading. 🙂

        1. Brown girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall, Patrick Chamoiseau, of course more Jamaica Kincaid, The Bridge of Beyond, Maryse Condé, Dionne Brand, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

      2. Which Chamoiseau are you going to read Solibo or Texaco? They both sound great. I like the sound of Brown Girl, Brownstones too will definitely get that. I’m also going to read Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo.

          1. I forgot to add Alecia McKenzie. I’m thinking of taking a writing course with her through WICE in Paris. This is a last minute decision since it starts on Monday. Still not sure yet.

  2. Didi, I am a fan of Edwidge Danticat’s work but have never read Krik? Krak! -!! Thank you for highlighting her because – in addition to reading her new book of stories – I would like to re-read some of her books. I am so glad that Easmanie Michel has endeavored to turn “Caroline’s Wedding” into a film and will scrape up SOMEthing to contribute toward her efforts! Happy New Year! Bises😘

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