Wednesday, March 10, 2004

In her earlier books Breath, Eyes, Memory, Krik? Krak! and The Farming of Bones, Ms. Danticat, who was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was 12, demonstrated an ability to use her lyric gift of language and her emotional clarity to show how the public and the private, the personal and the political are intertwined in the lives of Haitians and Haitian-Americans, and to show how the past anchors and hobbles the present.

The Dew Breaker not only showcases these same qualities, but it is also Ms. Danticat's most persuasive, organic performance yet. As seamless as it is compelling, the novel recounts its harrowing tale in limpid, understated prose, using a looping structure of overlapping stories to tell the Dew Breaker's story by indirection.

It is a tale that uses its characters' experiences as a prism to examine Haiti's own difficulties in breaking free from a centuries-old cycle of violence and vengeance that continues through today, a tale that simultaneously unfolds to become a philosophical meditation on the possibility of redemption and the longing of victims and victimizers alike to believe in the promise of new beginnings held forth by the American Dream.

-- From Michiko Kakutani's glowing review of The Dew Breaker in today's NY Times (like most Times online content, after about a week you'll have to pay to read it).

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