Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography
A National Book Award Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book
From the age of four, award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for America. And so she was both elated and saddened when, at twelve, she joined her parents and youngest brothers in New York City. As Edwidge made a life in a new country, adjusting to being far away from so many who she loved, she and her family continued to fear for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorated.
In 2004, they entered into a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. Brother I'm Dying is an astonishing true-life epic, told on an intimate scale by one of our finest writers.
In a single day in 2004, Danticat (Breath, Eyes, Memory; The Farming of Bones) learns that she's pregnant and that her father, Andr , is dying a stirring constellation of events that frames this Haitian immigrant family's story, rife with premature departures and painful silences. When Danticat was two, Andr left Haiti for the U.S., and her mother followed when Danticat was four. The author and her brother could not join their parents for eight years, during which Andr 's brother Joseph raised them. When Danticat was nine, Joseph a pastor and gifted orator lost his voice to throat cancer, making their eventual separation that much harder, as he wouldn't be able to talk with the children on the phone. Both Andr and Joseph maintained a certain emotional distance through these transitions. Danticat writes of a Haitian adage, " 'When you bathe other people's children, you should wash one side and leave the other side dirty.' I suppose this saying cautions those who care for other people's children not to give over their whole hearts." In the end, as Danticat prepares to lose her ailing father and give birth to her daughter, Joseph is threatened by a volatile sociopolitical clash and forced to flee Haiti. He's then detained by U.S. Customs and neglected for days. He unexpectedly dies a prisoner while loved ones await news of his release. Poignant and never sentimental, this elegant memoir recalls how a family adapted and reorganized itself over and over, enduring and succeeding to remain kindred in spite of living apart.
If someone wants to have a good account of how Haitian families are tied with each other , this is the book to read. With a natural and simplicity Edwidge Danticat paints the things we value such as the respect of our elderlies,the importance of family support and most of all our sense of dignity. I was blown a way by the support given to her father in his last moment. At a time, when most of our elderlies are sent to nursing homes for their last moment, this a vivid example of how they should be treated.
Jean R. Delice