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Brother, I'm Dying (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – September 9, 2008
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Dandicat's moving memoir focuses on her Uncle Joseph, who raised her in Haiti, and her father, who was reunited with her in the United States when she was 12. Robin Miles brings the two brothers to life. Portraying Dandicat's father, Mira, as soft-spoken and wise, she sagely decides not to try to imitate the mechanical voice box he uses after losing his larynx to throat cancer. The women sound much more alike, but Dandicat's mother and many aunts have relatively minor roles. The exception is Dandicat herself, the powerful narrator whom Miles portrays as a calm presence in the midst of political and familial tragedies. Miles's Creole sounds fluid and authentic, and listeners will have no trouble understanding the characters' French accents (Creole phrases are followed by translations). Miles uses the same pace throughout, but she might have given more pep to Joseph's breathtaking escape from Haiti. Miles is a perfect fit for Dandicat's books—she previously read Breath, Eyes, Memory. She artfully immerses listeners in Dandicat's world and will leave them wanting more.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
With Brother, I'm Dying, Danticat expands upon the gift for nonfiction she first demonstrated in her book about carnival in Jacmel. This time, she tackles memoir by way of family history, a private story that stands in for hundreds of thousands of other private stories and has deep public policy implications. Through the Dantica and Danticat families, we get an up-close-and-personal look at the terrors of Haitian history from Papa Doc to the present, alongside the beauties of place and people too often underexplored in newspaper accounts of Haiti.
The book's velocity increases toward the end, when Danticat's uncle is run out of Port-au-Prince by street gangs, only to encounter the surprisingly deadlier American immigration system. This part of the story is the most deeply felt section of a deeply felt book, and the reader wants to scream with outrage and the indignities Danticat's uncle suffers, and especially at the unwillingness of the immigration authorities to respond humanely to his illness, his difficulties in communicating, or his family's quite reasonable requests that he receive proper medical and legal attention.
I find myself grieving now, after finishing this book, and I want to know what I can do to make my country more compassionate. Certainly, Haitians receive shabbier treatment than almost any other ethnicity in our immigration and legal system, and, like Danticat, I find myself wondering why, and suspecting that it might be a manifestation of the worst prejudices we have not yet laid to rest.
It is true that books can be about virtuous things without being very good, but the urgency the reader feels about the book's subject owes much to the extraordinary power of the writing. If Danticat were a writer who chose subject matter of a lesser intensity, I believe that more critics would write about the sentences, the structural choices, the wise management of information in her books. That they do not is a testament to the power of the stories she chooses to tell, and her ability to get out of the way and give character and story center stage rather than the pyrotechnics of language which she is certainly capable of exhibiting.