Inspired by Albert Camus and adapted from her own lectures for Princeton University’s Toni Morrison Lecture Series, Danticat tells stories of artists who create despite (or because of) the horrors that drove them from their homelands. Combining memoir and essay, these pieces examine what it means to be an artist from a country in crisis.
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 ... By the end of this section we are not sure what field we are in: Haitian history, personal memoir, anthropology, comp lit or religious studies. But that is as it should be. 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 ... 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 ... 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.
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.
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 ... Thank you, Edwidge Danticat, for this journey of healing. Your song is very beautiful and your writing honors Haiti. Your Haiti, and now ours.