Friday, September 24, 2010

Krik? Krak!

Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

Wow, this small book of interweaving short stories packs a powerful punch of Haitian reality.   It gives readers a spoonful of Haiti's turbulent past and combines stories that intersect through many years of time and generations.  It depicts strong Haitian women, traditions of culture and vague instances of history. 

The history of Haiti is long and varied and this book had me longing to know more.  So I did a bit of research.  As a world history teacher I probably know more than most but still learned a lot and want to share my new knowledge.  If you are going to read this book, you need to understand some basic history of Haiti.  For example:  Haiti is the first place Christopher Columbus lands and claims the land for Spain.  All the Indians die of disease or are worked to death.  Slaves are then imported from Africa.  Haiti is the first South American country to win its Independence in 1838.

Here is what I learned.  In 1937 Dominican Republic's President Trujillo ordered the massacre of Haitians living on the border.  The river is now called The River of Blood.  In 1957, Dr. Francois Dulalier (Papa Doc) is elected in military controlled elections.  He later declares himself President for Life and rules with an Iron Fist.  He forms the infamous paramilitary Tonton Macoute (which means, Uncle Boogeyman)  These henchman are responsible for the killing and exile of thousands of people.  Papa Doc dies and his son (Baby Doc) takes power in 1971.  In 1972 the first Boat people( Haitian refugees) try to escape Haiti.  He rules unfavorably until 1986.  This is the history of the stories told in Krik? Krak!

This is the second book I have read by Edwidge Danticat and I want to read more.  In my opinion, this author is under the radar but she shouldn't be as she has won awards and even had a Oprah book.  Her stories are not all happy and full of hope, they basically reflect the reality of day to day life with small moments or glimmers of hope, which are hard for each reader to find.  Her writing is amazing and powerful, each story literally wowed me.

"When Haitians tell a story, they say "Krik?" and the eager listeners answer "Krak!".

Anyone out there like a good story?