Saturday, March 20, 2004

Archimedes held that he could lift the earth if he had a lever long enough, and an extraplanetary fulcrum to rest it on. There are horrors so heavy that they seem untellable. To bear to tell them so that we can bear to read them, a writer must find somewhere outside--peaceful, unmarked--to project them from. Atrocity enters the imagination not as the violating point of the knife but as the fair flesh violated.

That is how the Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat has managed over the past 10 years to portray with such terrifying wit and flowered pungency the torment of the Haitian people....

In her other stories and in this collection Danticat often uses the Haitian community in the United States as the horror-spared site for her fulcrum. Despite difficulties, strangeness and uncertainties, these characters are swimmers pulled from the depths. Nitrogen bubbles course agonizingly in their bloodstream, memories rack them; yet there is an uncertain daylight, and it is by this that darkness is called up and told.

-- From Richard Eder's review of The Dew Breaker in this weekend's NY Times Book Review (like most Times online content, after about a week you'll have to pay to read it).

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