TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Edwidge Danticat on Why Haitians Survive

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In the midst of the horrifying tragedy of Haiti’s earthquake and the hundreds of thousands of people it killed, it’s critical to understand how the Haitian people have survived not just natural disasters, but more than 200 years of Euro-American oppression, occupation and economic enslavement.

Traditionally, artists collect people’s experiences and reflect them back. For people living under tyranny, the artist’s role is indispensable: distilling and harnessing those aspects of our lives which give us meaning, hope, joy and dignity.

Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat rose to fame through the quality of her prose, and because she so carefully animated the experiences of Haitians surviving the Empire.

She’s the author of eight books, including 2008’s Brother, I’m Dying, 2005’s The Dew Breaker, 1999’s The Farming of Bones, and her most well-known novels, Breath, Eyes, Memory published in 1998, which became an Oprah Book Club pick, and her 1996 debut Krik? Krak!, which was an American National Book Award finalist.

Danticat also edited The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States and The Beacon Best of 2000: Great Writing by Men and Women of All Colors and Cultures.

Born in Haiti in 1969 and an American resident since age 12, Danticat holds an undergraduate degree in French literature and an MFA in creative writing. She’s taught at New York University and Miami University.

She’s also the recipient of the half-million dollar MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, popularly known as the Genius Award.

Danticat spoke at the University of California at Santa Barbara on June 2, 2004, to deliver the Regents’ Lecture for the Department of Black Studies, just a few months after the American, French and Canadian-backed coup and kidnapping of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Introducing Danticat is Claudine Michel, Chair of Chicana/Chicano Studies at UC Santa Barbara.


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