Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Farming of Bones :: Edwidge Danticat

Woo. I owe this blog a couple of posts (otherwise, I fear Moonrat is going to kick my butt).

First up: The wonderfully talented Edwidge Danticat. An author of Haitian background, her prose is so lyrical, so rich and full, that reading her stuff requires me to take a breather afterwards. To digest it. The way you would a painfully delicious meal.

The Farming of Bones takes place around the events of the 1937 Parsley Massacre that occured in the Dominican Republic. [I didn't know anything about these events before I read this book but] basically the government in place at the time took it upon themselves to purge the island of Haitians, many who had been in the DR for generations as cane workers and other low-level workers. Within a couple of weeks, hundreds of thousands of Haitians were rounded up and macheted, shot, drowned, etc. Some were lucky enough to escape back over the border into Haiti.

The story itself follows a young woman named Amabelle, and you get a glimpse of her life just before these events unfold, and then the nightmare that ensues afterwards.

The beauty in this book is not that she blunts the horror of the events - because she really doesn't. But it's the way in which she tells it, the language she uses, the way she is able to acutely describe pain that goes with physical anguish and emotional anguish, the way she captures loss and memory. Most of all memory.

It's a bit of a depressing read, but ultimately well-worth it. It's achingly beautiful in the way that Danticat is best at. Of all her novels I've read, my favorite so far. Excellent.

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