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Brother, I'm Dying [Kindle Edition]

Edwidge Danticat
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From the age of four, award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for America. And so she was both elated and saddened when, at twelve, she joined her parents and youngest brothers in New York City. As Edwidge made a life in a new country, adjusting to being far away from so many who she loved, she and her family continued to fear for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorated.


In 2004, they entered into a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. Brother I'm Dying is an astonishing true-life epic, told on an intimate scale by one of our finest writers.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Edwidge Danticat's Claire of the Sea Light. 

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In a single day in 2004, Danticat (Breath, Eyes, Memory; The Farming of Bones) learns that she's pregnant and that her father, André, is dying—a stirring constellation of events that frames this Haitian immigrant family's story, rife with premature departures and painful silences. When Danticat was two, André left Haiti for the U.S., and her mother followed when Danticat was four. The author and her brother could not join their parents for eight years, during which André's brother Joseph raised them. When Danticat was nine, Joseph—a pastor and gifted orator—lost his voice to throat cancer, making their eventual separation that much harder, as he wouldn't be able to talk with the children on the phone. Both André and Joseph maintained a certain emotional distance through these transitions. Danticat writes of a Haitian adage,  'When you bathe other people's children, you should wash one side and leave the other side dirty.' I suppose this saying cautions those who care for other people's children not to give over their whole hearts. In the end, as Danticat prepares to lose her ailing father and give birth to her daughter, Joseph is threatened by a volatile sociopolitical clash and forced to flee Haiti. He's then detained by U.S. Customs and neglected for days. He unexpectedly dies a prisoner while loved ones await news of his release. Poignant and never sentimental, this elegant memoir recalls how a family adapted and reorganized itself over and over, enduring and succeeding to remain kindred in spite of living apart. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Edwidge Danticat's father and uncle chose very different paths: the former struggled to make a new life for himself in America, while the latter remained in the homeland he paradoxically loved. In following their lives and their impact on future generations, Danticat's powerful family memoir explores how the private and the political, the past and the present, intersect. The most poignant section focuses on Joseph's tragic trip to the United States at age 81, but Danticat also tells a wider story about family and exile, the Haitian diaspora, the Duvalier regime, and post-9/11 immigration policy. Emotionally resonant and exceptionally clear-eyed, Brother, I'm Dying offers insight into a talented writer, her family history, and the injustices of the modern world.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 339 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400034302
  • Publisher: Vintage (September 4, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000VMBX7G
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,276 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Love, migration and injustice September 16, 2007
Edwidge tells the story of a modern Haitian family, her family, with great love and courage. In addition to Edwidge's family's personal events, the year 2004 was a year of great sadness and emotion for Haiti and Haitians. It was a year that was to be the celebration of the country's 200th. birthday. Haitians were full of anger at the political situation and sadness at their inability to celebrate one of the major reasons for Haitian pride, our great history. There were also terrible natural disasters, floods that killed more people than 9/11 did. It was a sad year and Edwidge was having her first baby.
While it is often said that Haitians in the US are not political refugees but economic refugees, this book shows us that family life is tied to political life. And in the face of the political and economic situation, some make the choice to emigrate at any cost as Edwidge's biological father did, and some make the choice of serving their community in Haiti as Edwidge's surrogate father and uncle did. Each man expresses love for the family in his own way either as a provider of financial support or a provider of every day love. Uncle Joseph stayed in Haiti as long as he could. When the day came that his own home was destroyed and his life was directly threatened, he decided to go to the US with no return date. That's how he encountered his death: a family man alone in a foreign hospital, shackled, voiceless, and abandoned, because he made the mistake of asking for political asylum.
For most Americans this story will be an introduction to a type of life common to many Haitians, a life of dedication to family and of cultural transitions. Edwidge's family is a hybrid of true Haitians and true Americans. As Americans they believed in respect for national institutions.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Like Bill Maher says, if you're not embarrassed being an American these days, then you must be dead. Edwidge Danticat's memoir BROTHER, I'M DYING, this year's National Book Award finalist, never points a "shame on you" finger at anyone. But once you've digested the dramatic, poignant and unsentimental experiences of her beautiful book, you will be ashamed and disgusted by America's kneejerk reactions to the many people who flock to this nation thinking it is still the land of opportunity.

Edwidge's parents left her native Haiti when she was four years old, for the America of old where they might escape the oppressive strictures of the Duvalier government and make their way in a world of freedom and opportunity. Her parents left her and her brother in the care of her uncle Joseph, a man who profoundly affected the person she grew up to be. She calls him the man who "knew all the verses for love." (Who wouldn't want such an epitaph?) Until she was 12, he and his family guided her as one of their own. As an enthusiastic pastor, he made moral lessons sing for her and was able to encourage her interests in nursing as well as writing. At the age of 12, however, her parents called her to New York, where she was reunited with her younger siblings and the father she had barely known before.

Leaving behind Joseph and her colorful extended family was exceedingly difficult and emotional for her. In fact, once she left, Joseph was stricken with an illness that kept him from speaking --- so Edwidge and her brother who had lived with him could not even talk to him by phone. She concentrated instead on her studies while fearing more and more each day the deteriorating political system in her homeland.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Beautiful September 23, 2007
So far, this is my favorite book by Danticat (I've read them all). It drew me in completely. And although I knew from the title that at least one life would be lost by the close of the book, I was unable to stop reading.I kept thinking that her father and uncle, not to mention the rest of her family must be very proud of her for writing such a beautiful eulogy. I also believe that the Haitian people who live with this suffering are also glad. Good work, Edwidge.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple lives, exquisitely portrayed September 17, 2007
This book is one of Ms. Danticat's finest works. If you loved her work so far, you won't be disappointed with this book. As in her other books, her writing literally sings, sometimes mournful tunes, sometimes pretty ditties. Whatever the tone of the "music," it's wonderful. As is this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tale of Two Fathers October 31, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
this is an extraordinary book. It just might be the most touching tribute to a father I have ever read. The author was raised by her uncle and aunt in Haiti, when her parents were required to immigrate to the U.S. I was really moved by the affection she writes about each of these men and their loving care for her. The sections of the book that describe these two brothers reunion in Brooklyn are heartwarming. There is real tragedy in this story, yet, triumphant spirit of love in this families trials in war torn Haiti and in the United States. This is a wonderful book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weep for America October 21, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I read this extra ordinary account her family struggles, I wept for America. I wept for the way not only Haitians but immigrants from other countries are treated without dignity by fellow humans. Edwidge, thank you for sharing your Uncle's story. I am so glad his copious notes will be read by millions around the world.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Edwidge is the best there is
Edwidge is the best there is. The story of her father's death is horrific, but hardly surprising that the US treated him so unjustly after he barely escaped death in Haiti.
Published 23 days ago by Anne
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
This is such an amazing book, reminds me of my youth in Haiti at that time. Good to read someone else's experience.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting read
Insightful book about a topic I knew nothing about. I recommend it for anyone who wants an easy, interesting read.
Published 2 months ago by Eric Chen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story!
This was a great book, I loved it! It was sad, but it opened my eyes to the kinds of struggles that people from other countries have when trying to live a better life in America,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Teresa
5.0 out of 5 stars this book will blow your mind away
This book is both fascinating and enlightening. I could not put it down. I read the whole book in three days. Very good story.
Published 6 months ago by marie damy
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Danticat is an amazing author. She is just superb! The words, the writing you feel like you know her. You love her at her best, at her worst and the present. Read more
Published 10 months ago by TLaird
4.0 out of 5 stars deeply engaging
This won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. It is lively and engaging. Parts are wrapped in joy and humanity; others are wrapped in devastating evidence of... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Gretchen Tremoulet
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving story
The author effectively makes the reader more than an observer of events, but essentially a part of her world and her family. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Joanne S. Byrd
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating Story
Ms. Danticat's book is fascinating and totally gets you involved with the people in her life and her circumstances. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Laura L Weisbrod
5.0 out of 5 stars Immigration, Family, Love and Heartbreak!
I never read reviews before I read a book. If the synopsis does not attract me, then the reviews will not matter to me. So, I picked up Edwidge Danticat's book on a whim. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Sonia
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More About the Author

Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and came to the United States when she was twelve years old. She graduated from Barnard College and received an M.F.A. from Brown University. She made an auspicious debut with her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, and followed it with the story collection Krik? Krak!, whose National Book Award nomination made Danticat the youngest nominee ever. She lives in New York.

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