Create Dangerously is one of the better considerations of writing and identity I’ve ever encountered ... It’s this embrace of herself as an accident in a world ruled by accidents that, I think, makes Danticat’s writing so powerful. She acknowledges that the prospect of writing about tragedies and vanished cultures is a daunting one, yet she is not daunted: she accepts that by some accident she exists and has the power to create, and so she does. And this, ultimately, is how she preserves or resurrects part of what has been lost. We create, she writes, 'as though each piece of art were a stand-in for a life, a soul, a future…. We have no other choice.'
One of the pleasures of reading this book is the way that Danticat self-consciously shows the intertwining of experience; this enduring connection is especially important to her as a writer exploring an opposing diaspora theme of distance and disconnection ... What is worthy is Danticat’s passion for her subject. What is revealing is the way she sees her themes of exile, banishment, emigration and — most important — return, everywhere, along with their implications and consequences. A writer truly and meaningfully immersed in her work is like a paranoid person: every piece of experience seems to echo back to her the subject of her work. So it is with Danticat ... Danticat is at her best when writing from inside Haiti. It’s a miracle, the way she captures the textures of a reality she was a part of for only the first 12 years of her life ... as Danticat’s 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. Through her 'made up' stories, she has brought Haiti to life for countless readers who otherwise would have understood nothing. 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.
...astonishing ... Here, finally, is the book I've been searching for, the book I urge everyone to read about Haiti. In 12 chapters, we enter into the heart of Haiti, not just the Haiti of the earthquake, though that looming loss makes every detail and person to whom we are introduced more luminous and precious. We learn about Haiti's rich culture -- no poverty there -- and about its artists, its freedom fighters, its rascals and its history. We get to know Danticat, the writer -- why she feels she must create dangerously, fearlessly ... Reading Danticat's book, we become Haitian. Our nation and our people lie under that rubble. But Haiti also rises from the ashes of all that has been lost in these heartening and heartrendingly beautiful pages ... Thank you, Edwidge Danticat, for this journey of healing. Your song is very beautiful and your writing honors Haiti. Your Haiti, and now ours.
If ever an author could claim licence to indulge in self-dramatising profundities about the agonies of exilic consciousness, Danticat would qualify - but her posture here is modest, without any hint of pretension. Some of the pieces are personal essays; others are critical reflections on the work of Haitian writers and artists who worked as emigrants. The difference in focus does not involve a difference in tone, however. In either genre, Danticat registers an acute awareness that dislocation or relocation are, after all, common experiences ... Danticat takes her title, Create Dangerously, from a lecture by Albert Camus. Employed by someone else the phrase might sound bombastic, but here there is a constant tension between the author's sense of creativity as a possible moral force in the world and her uncertainty about ever finding a place in it ... She 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.
...[a] lean collection of jaw-breaking horrors side by side with luminous insights ... this volume, which grows out of the Toni Morrison lecture series at Princeton, is uneven and inorganic in patches. But in Danticat’s many remarkable stories and pensées from the gut, one locates the inimitable power of truth.