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Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (The Toni Morrison Lecture Series) Hardcover – September 19, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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Winner of the 2011 Bocas Lit Fest OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature in Nonfiction
Finalist for the 2010 Book of the Year Award in Biography and Autobiography, ForeWord Reviews
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice for 2010
One of Mosaic Magazine's Best Books for 2010
"Danticat is at her best when writing from inside Haiti. . . . As [her] recollections show, her singular achievement is not to have remade the actual Haiti, but to have recreated it. She has wound the fabric of Haitian life into her work and made it accessible to a wide audience of Americans and other outsiders. . . . Danticat's tender new book about loss and the unquenchable passion for homeland makes us remember the powerful material from which most fiction is wrought: it comes from childhood, and place. No matter her geographic and temporal distance from these, Danticat writes about them with the immediacy of love."--Amy Wilentz, New York Times Book Review
"A lean collection of jaw-breaking horrors side by side with luminous insights. . . . In Danticat's many remarkable stories and pensées from the gut, one locates the inimitable power of truth. Authorship becomes an act of subversion when one's words might be read and acted on by someone risking his or her life if only to read them."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Danticat's writing is crisp and clear, reminiscent of what the very best essay writing once aspired to be. . . . Not just another writer's book about writing, this volume delves into the suffering that affects artists who suspend themselves from time and place to create. . . . Her book should be read by students, historians and lovers of well-crafted writing."--Nedra Crowe-Evers, Library Journal
"Danticat is a marvelous writer, blending personal anecdotes, history and larger reflections without turning the immigrant writer into a victim, misunderstood by all."--Sandip Roy, San Francisco Chronicle
"[Edwidge Danticat's] mission as a writer has been to speak from the diaspora for Haiti's disfranchised and silenced. . . . That responsibility weighs heavily in these essays, which dwell on her personal sorrows as much as those of the Haitian masses. . . . Her unlettered Haitian relatives call her a jounalis, a journalist writing with a purpose. She doesn't let them down."--Amanda Heller, Boston Globe
"Danticat's prose is spare and piercing; she doesn't waste words. Her ideas are never cloaked in layers of metaphor, yet every sentence has a lyrical, persuasive quality. . . . Within this stirring collection, one theme struck me more strongly than any other: for artists, the drive to create triumphs over everything else. Or it should. . . . Creating dangerously means telling the truth--working without or in spite of fear."--Jennifer Levin, Santa Fe New Mexican
"Whether she is profiling a courageous Haitian photojournalist, writing about a visit to relatives in a rural village, or meditating on the career of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Danticat is always also writing about her responsibilities as a part of what is called, in Creole, the dyaspora. . . . [T]houghtful, powerful."--Adam Kirsch, Barnes and Noble Review
"Whether the topic is Haiti's war of independence, 9/11, the artist, musician and actor Jean-Michel Basquiat, the January earthquake and its aftermath, Danticat writes with a compassionate insight but without a trace of sentimentality. Her prose is energetic, her vision is clear, the tragedies seemingly speaking for themselves."--Betsy Willeford, Miami Herald
"Danticat's writing is inviting, beautiful and honest."--Color Online
"[Danticat] avoids grandiose claims about the insightfulness of the exile--while honouring the complexity of the immigrant artist's role, with its precariousness and its drive to make connections."--Scott McLemee, National
"What is best in this collection are the vivid portraits of the author's childhood in Haiti (and then as a book-obsessed teenager visiting the library in Brooklyn), intermingled with return journeys to visit relatives, collect sacks of coffee and observe the nation changing. There are sharp thoughts on Basquiat, Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haitian earthquake."--Steven Poole, Guardian
"Focused on her medium of 'word art,' though incorporating theater and visual arts, Danticat pieces together a multi-essay response to the creatives' lament . . . how do, why do and should we create, in this at-best messy and at-worst dangerous world?"--Kristin Theil, Oregonian
"Have you ever started reading a book which draws you in within the first few sentences and leaves you unable to put it down until the very last word and then, because it amazed and moved you more than anything you can remember, you immediately read it again? . . . Create Dangerously, is one of those books. . . . Danticat is that rare writer who can make you smile as your soul aches. Although Create Dangerously is not an easy book to read it is disturbing and particularly controversial in places it is, nonetheless, a consistently passionate, deeply thought-provoking and highly important book which should be read, reread and then passed on to new hands."--Josh Rosner, Canberra Times
"Danticat's voice offers a plaintive, entreating call for recognition of the suffering of so many in the world, and of their irrepressible desire to make life more meaningful by embracing art despite it all, no matter the cost."--Kerri Shadid, Blogcritics.org
"Throughout Create Dangerously, Ms. Danticat catalogs through personal narratives many of the dilemmas that immigrant writers face: readers and critics who question the 'veracity' of the stories; the accompanying guilt from the accusation of being a 'parasite,' and my personal favorite, the 'intrusion' into the lives of family and friends."--Geoffrey Philp blog
"Danticat's essays and her memoir are highly finessed and subtle. She breaches the vertiginous fault lines between the real and the surreal, between writing and archeiropoietos, between lòt bò dlo, and anba dlo. . . . [Create Dangerously] asks us to consider art and literature as vehicles for authenticity and self-expression, however dangerous that might be. This achievement is effortless and utterly compelling, with not one syllable or sentiment below guapa."--Michelle Cahill, Mascara Literary Review
"That Danticat engages and re-engages [the] complicated, important, and perennial questions of living and creating is one of the many reasons to read this book."--Danielle Georges, Women's Review of Books
Top Customer Reviews
The above is from the inside flap and truly captures what this book is about. Danticat opens with the 1964 public execution in Haiti, under dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier of two artist, Marcel Numa, Louis Drouin. The author quickly establishes that some artist risk their lives to create and speak in a hostile environment. This work addresses the role immigrant artist must play for their birth countries that suffer from censorship and unjust rule. We learn about many Haitian artist. Some who gave hope and inspiration, others who were exiled or murdered. Danticat tells us about Jean Dominque, a journalist who spent his life speaking out against the government and was assassinated. Sharing stories and memories, Danticat makes Dominque real.
"During the dictatorship in the early 1960's, a young Jean had created a cinema club, hosting weekly screenings at the Alliance Francaise in Port-au-Prince. There he showed films such as Federico Fellini's La Strada, which is, among other things, about a girl's near enslavement as a circus performer. "If you see a good film correctly" Jean said, "the grammar of that film is a political act. Everytime you see Fellini's La Strada, even if there is no question of fascism, of politcal persecution, you feel something against the black part of life.Read more ›
This book tells of people who left but could not forget their homeland and their people. Some went back to fight for the people and were brutally killed by the leadership of the country. Others who are affected by diaspora may feel guilty because they are free and so many are left behind to suffer. The books in this class are not books I would choose for myself but I am glad they are required reading because I have a tendency to be like the ostrich. These books are raw and real and force the reader to LOOK when we had really rather turn our head.
I especially like a quote in this book by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "We, as we read, must become Greeks, Romans, Turks, priest and king, martyr and executioner,; must fasten these images to some reality in our secret experience, or we shall learn nothing rightly." These books are reminders of what evil can do when it is allowed to rule. These books make me appreciate more than ever our wonderful country that gives the people a voice and the freedom to speak and live. It makes us aware of the price our military is paying in order to keep us free. They are going against some of these countries who have governments exactly like those discussed in these books, ruthless and brutal.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a wonderfully written 'call to arms' type of essay that digs into Danticat's battle with her personal history as a Haitian who fled to the US in exile with her family at an... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kristina Bernard
As an aspiring writer, I found in Danticat's book a way of thinking that not only helped how I view writing but also how I view the world, particularly through Haiti's trail of... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amy Lillis
I really loved the book it gave me an insight about the sufferings that have occurred in Haiti for some 50 plus years.Published 14 months ago by Rosa Javier
Like all Danticat, beautifully considered and written. Much information, much passion, much clarity. Highly recommend.Published 18 months ago by Wanda H. Giles
Got me through a summer of English class. I got a B. Beeotch cheating teacher, cheated me out of my grade! However, the book is very good.Published 18 months ago by Linda M. Love
In a collection of essays called Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, the French philosopher and journalist Albert Camus writes, “Art cannot be a monologue. We are on the high seas. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Tim Hoiland
I've read most of Danticat's books, and this one is great from the perspective of the artist. I wish that she had gone deeper on opinion, or that she had laid out her position... Read morePublished on April 9, 2014 by Priscilla Stilwell