I’d never heard the words Kirk? Krak! and wondered what they meant when I picked this book up. Reading the back cover, I learned that storytellers say Krik? and listeners say Krak! in Haiti. Krik? Krak! is a poetic collection of connected short stories that explores the Haitian community in the United States and in Haiti. The tradition of storytelling is a way of passing down moeurs and is an important part of Haitian culture. This is specifically treated in this collection – passing culture from mother to daughter.
Krik? Krak! opens with a short story of Haitian refugees that are attempting to escape the political strife and horrors of their country and are floating out to sea desperately trying to reach Miami, while shedding their personal items along the way and in some cases their lives. Each story is told from the poignant point of view of Haitians however surprising these stories have a strong sense of universality about them as well. Everyone has a sense of home, a sense of family, of culture, and a desire for a good life. Danticat does a brilliant job of integrating the recurring themes of water, suffering, and hope. Water is often portrayed as a barrier. The barrier that surrounds the island of Haiti and separates it from the Dominican Republic. Just as the ocean must be crossed to attain a hopeful life in the United States, water is the notion of escape along with the reminder of all the Haitians that didn’t/don’t make it.
It’s very hard to read these stories and not think about the refugees fleeing the horrors of Syria and immigrating to Europe. Leaving one’s country and having to find the balance between acceptance into a new country and preserving the culture that was left behind. Danticat’s writing is infectious with a dynamism of superstition and it enlightens the reader to Haitian history. I strongly recommend reading this short story collection to learn more about Haiti and its people but mostly to experience the passionate manner in which Danticat evokes the honesty, courage, sensitivity, and authenticity of their stories.
Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-American writer born in Port-au-Prince in 1969. She was raised in Haiti by her aunt and uncle. She finally joined her parens, who had left for the United States earlier, at the age of 12 in Brooklyn. Danticat began writing at the age of 9 years old. Her move to Brooklyn was difficult so she turned to literature for comfort. Her first published writing in English was A Haitian-American Christmas: Cremace and Creole Theatre. Some of the major themes that are dealt with in her writings are mother-daughter relationships, national identity, and Haitian diaspora.
She has been decorated with countless literary awards and honorary degrees. Having earned a Masters of Fine Arts from Brown University, Danticat has gone on to write many well-known titled books such as The Farming of the Bones, The Dew Breaker, and her latest novel Claire of the Sea Light. On a high note, a young director named Easmanie Michel fell in love with Krik? Krak! and is working diligently to bring Edwidge Danticat’s short story Caroline’s Wedding to the big screen. She believes that Danticat’s work will translate well on-screen and she has been entrusted to make it happen. If you’re interested in keeping up with the new developments on this film project head over and check out Easmanie Michel’s Facebook page Caroline’s Wedding.
My Copy: Krik? Krak!, paperback 224 pages
I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying.