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Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States [Kindle Edition]

Edwidge Danticat
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In four sections—Childhood, Migration, First Generation, and Return—the contributors to this anthology write powerfully, often hauntingly, of their lives in Haiti and the United States. Jean-Robert Cadet's description of his Haitian childhood as a restavec—a child slave—in Port-au-Prince contrasts with Dany Laferriere's account of a ten-year-old boy and his beloved grandmother in Petit-Gove. We read of Marie Helene Laforest's realization that while she was white in Haiti, in the United States she is black. Patricia Benoit tells us of a Haitian woman refugee in a detention center who has a simple need for a red dress—dignity. The reaction of a man who has married the woman he loves is the theme of Gary Pierre-Pierre's "The White Wife"; the feeling of alienation is explored in "Made Outside" by Francie Latour. The frustration of trying to help those who have remained in Haiti and of the do-gooders who do more for themselves than the Haitians is described in Babette Wainwright's "Do Something for Your Soul, Go to Haiti." The variations and permutations of the divided self of the Haitian emigrant are poignantly conveyed in this unique anthology.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The experience of Haitian ?migr?s in what novelist Danticat (Krik? Krak!; etc.) calls the "tenth" geographical "department" of HaitiA"the floating homeland, the ideological one, which joined all Haitians living in the dyaspora"Ais the theme of this collection of 33 spare and evocative essays and poems. Most of these writers fled political instability as children and describe the dual reality of alienation from yetbelonging to two worlds, forging an identity separate from that of their parents in the new country, while at the same time continuing to wait for stability in the old country. Nik?l Payen tells of her experience as a U.S. Justice Department-sponsored interpreter who uses her knowledge of Krey?l ("the language whose purpose in life up until now had been to pain and confuse me") as "an asset" to translate for refugees waiting in horrific conditions at Guantanamo Naval Base following the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. When she witnesses the return of some of these HaitiansAdenied entrance to the U.S.Ashe likens their journey to the African Middle Passage. In another, Marie-H?l?ne Laforest, whose lighter skin color and family's wealth made her "white" in Haiti, realizes that she is simply black in America and later forges a third identity in Italy. Francie Latour, a journalist, convinces her American newspaper to send her to Haiti with a noble aim, but ends up "hitting a cultural wall" and being viewed as a "traitor" by her native people. This rich collection of writings will appeal to the growing number of Haitian-Americans and others interested in the question of the ?migr?'s sense of identity. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Diaspora kindles painful and conflicting emotions, and those living in exile from Haiti carry burdens both archetypal and unique to the legacy of their homeland, the first black republic in the Western Hemisphere. Danticat, the gifted Haitian American author of The Farming of Bones (1998), has assembled a potent and piercing collection of essays and poems that articulate the frustrations and sorrows of Haitians who are now outsiders both in Haiti and in their places of refuge. Her eloquent contributors express anger over the negative images conjured by what Joel Dreyfuss calls "the Phrase," the automatic tag line "the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere," and voice pride in Haiti's spirituality and art. Not that there isn't much to lament, as evident in searing essays by Jean-Robert Cadet, Barbara Sanon, and Marie Ketsia Theodore-Pharel. Haiti is a profoundly complex and alluring place, a neighbor, as Francie Latour observes, "whose history and future are so intertwined" with the U.S. that it must be better understood, and Danticat's revelatory anthology is a giant step in that direction. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 429 KB
  • Print Length: 271 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1569472181
  • Publisher: Soho Press (July 1, 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4X9LA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,502 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Proud Collection September 4, 2001
Format:Paperback
I was excited when I heard that this book was coming out and did not miss the chance to buy it at publication. To say I was inspired when reading the book would have to be an understatement. I have always been proud to be Haitian but reading through the book heightened my pride incredibly. It is a fantastic collection of talented and gifted Haitian writers who speak to you at so many levels of what it feels like to be a Haitian either born and raised in Haiti or born and raised here in the states. I identified with many of them and marvelled at how humorous and deep our experiences range. The stories are funny, touching, educational and inspiring. I'm glad that there are so many Haitian people out there who are proud of where they come from and are helping the rest of us shout with pride as well. Thank you, Edwidge. You are an inspiration and a gifted person and I thank you for bringing this collection out into the public.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reconnecting to my heritage June 6, 2001
Format:Paperback
Ever since i Discovered the work of Edwidge Danticat years ago,i've been reading anything i encounter, authored by her. thus, my encounter with "The Butterfly's Way." i was so excited to see her name, i initially missed the fact that this is a collection of short stories by various authors. Oh, but what a pleasant surprise. i identified with nearly all of the stories, and was so pleased to discover so many gifted authors of Haitian descent.At times sad,others funny, the butterfly's way resonates truth,and understanding. i highly recommend it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Butterfly's Way November 6, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I ordered this book based on name recognition, the editor.
This book should be mandatory reading for all students of social studies.
Well witten, candid short stories.
Thank you to the contributors for their thoughts and experiences.
Thank you to the editor, for exposing and immortalize the words and thought of a nation.
Please order this book, find out for yourself. Trust me, once you start reading, you will not stop.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This moving anthology April 19, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This moving anthology offers a human vision of Haiti, Haitians, and the diaspora. Danticat is to be commended for her careful shaping of the book, and the contributors have marshalled powerful, poetic, and individual experiences that offer a rounded vision of the Haitian and Haitian-American experience. In the fineness of its particularized portrayals, it transcends itself to deserve a place on the shelf of world literature.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vive Haiti April 20, 2002
Format:Paperback
This book is an excellent compilation on various aspect of Haiti, Haitian/American Culuture.
The stories and poems touch on so many different aspects of life as a haitian from being haitian homosexual, to being a restavek, to interracial dating, to name a few of the topics touched on.
This book is a must-read for all HAITIANS and anyone interested in understanding the Haiti and her people.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The proud Butterfly March 7, 2001
By "kahto"
Format:Paperback
This book is amazing. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Danticat in person last week and she brought 4 of the writers from the book and they got to read some pages of what they wrote. You should of seen how crowded it was that night. Danticat signed my book and so did the others. The stories makes you laugh and cry, it is bittersweet and takes you back to your Haitian roots. If you've forgotten what it means to be Haitian or African or Jamaican, you'll learn to appreciate who are you and your ancestors when you open up Butterfly's Way. I recommend this book to mothers, daughters, sons, fathers...all
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars enthralling collection!!!!
I have traveled to Haiti over the past 25 years and this book has opened windows of understanding I have long sought! Read more
Published on May 21, 2010 by TropicalDoc
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy with this purchase
I would recommend buying college books and textbooks on amazon instead of going to the school bookstore. I just ordered it online and it was shipped quickly to my house. Read more
Published on February 27, 2009 by Angelica Garcia
5.0 out of 5 stars Connecting to experiences unknown
This collection of stories, poems and articles is wonderful. Like Libete, it has great insight into the workings of the Haitian spirit with the realities of Haiti's situation. Read more
Published on November 11, 2007 by A.J. Hills
5.0 out of 5 stars Read all about it
It was a joy to open this book and inhale the contents with eyes closed. I couldn't put it away and still grab it sometimes to read over and over the enchanting and some sad... Read more
Published on November 26, 2006 by C. Delaleu
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, thorough, colorful and factual
For anyone who has Haitian parents, or is of Carribean heritage this book speaks to our struggles, the diversity among us and yet doesn't forget the pride we all have for our... Read more
Published on March 2, 2001 by Carine
5.0 out of 5 stars Edwidge Danticat 's "The Butterfly's Way"- America's finest
Edwidge Danticat, an award winning alumni of Columbia University, whose novel 'Breath, Eyes and Memory' was selected by Oprah's Book Club has edited this excellent collection of... Read more
Published on February 19, 2001
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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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