Ghosts by Edwidge Danticat

January 25, 2010

Until she won the “Genius” grant last year, I had never heard of Edwidge Danticat. (I know.) I thought she sounded like a great author, and a friend of mine who works in Haiti highly recommended her writing. The tragedy last week made me want to read her even more because I wanted to learn about the country’s culture and people. I was already pretty familiar with the everyday tragedies that occurred in Haiti long before the earthquake struck, but I had never read anything written by people who were actually Haitian. Luckily, Eva’s new blog template pointed me to one of Danticat’s short stories, Ghosts. It’s available online, but I fished out my old copy of The New Yorker issue. I’m so glad I did–this story is remarkably well written. It’s too bad that I didn’t give this story a try when I first read the rest of the issue in November 2008. What made me skip over it, I wonder?

The story focuses on Pascal, a young Haitian growing up in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince. He isn’t interesting in joining the neighborhood gang, but that seems to only make his life more difficult. Danticat tells Pascal’s story in such a matter of fact, straightforward way, that I found myself accidentally slipping into thinking that I was reading another one of The New Yorker’s typical narrative nonfiction pieces, and that this was an actual story of an actual boy that a journalist met in Haiti. That’s how realistic these characters are! If you’re looking for a good introduction to Danticat (that’s also online for free), this would definitely be the place to start. I noticed that Danticat wrote the introduction to my copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Now I’m even more excited to read that.

This week, Danticat has written a rather emotional story for The New Yorker about the earthquake. I haven’t it yet, as I’m waiting for my issue to arrive in the mail. If you are intrigued, you can read it online or buy a copy of this week’s issue. If you poke around that site, you’ll also find the transcript of an online talk she did with the magazine today. All really interesting stuff.



  1. Thanks for the link to her earthquake story; I can’t wait to read it! Have you read any of her novels? I loved The Farming of the Bones, and I definitely want to read more of her soon.

    • I hope you enjoy it! I haven’t read any of her novels, and I didn’t really know where to start. I will check out The Farming of the Bones.

  2. It’s a great story yet with a chilling end.

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