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The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat

The Dew Breaker (2004)

by Edwidge Danticat

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903339,768 (3.63)80
  1. 00
    The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian (LCBrooks)
    LCBrooks: Both Dandicat and Mustian do a great job of moving between the past and present while keeping the reader engaged in the story.
  2. 00
    Bones Become Flowers by Jess Mowry (thesmellofbooks)

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We are introduced to a Haitian man, living in Brooklyn. He emigrated here, over thirty years ago. He is a good father and a good husband. He also has a very dark past, which involved, working as a prison guard, in his homeland. Rumors of atrocities abound...
We are then shown separate stories, of the lives of other Haitians, as they deal with the struggles of life and each of them has some connection, with the “Dew Breaker”, (or torturer).
This was my first novel, by this author and I was quite impressed. Her haunting prose, is beautiful but also tough and unflinching. It may not always be an easy or smooth read but it will make an indelible impression.

“And for the rest of the night we raise our glasses, broken and unbroken alike, to the terrible days behind us and the uncertain ones ahead.” ( )
1 vote msf59 | Mar 20, 2016 |
"Dew breaker" is a Creole name for a torturer, referring to the disruption of a morning's peaceful serenity by walking across the dew-covered grass. In this case that grass was disturbed by Haitian military, coming in the early morning to arrest, torture and kill those who spoke out in any way against the Haitian dictatorship of the 1960's. This rather short novel by a Haitian-American author is the fictional story of a man living in New York as a kind father, barber, and landlord. Although somewhat reclusive he lives a peaceful life until he reveals to his adult daughter that the terrible scar on his face is not from being tortured in a Haitian prison, but rather the result of being the torturer. After this revelation in the first pages of the book, the remainder of the story is a retrospective of his life before coming to the United States and assuming a new identity. Told from numerous perspectives, the novel introduces to the reader numerous characters who are or have been a part of the dew breaker's past. Skipping from one character to another is somewhat frustrating, but the author manages to do it in a way that ultimately ties all the characters together and leaves the reader in awe at her skill in storytelling. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
This fiction was just way too overworked for me. ( )
  poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
I love short stories and I especially love when all the stories somehow connect to each other (kinda like how the movies Crash and Love Actually are set up) because of that I really enjoyed reading through this book. This novel centers around several Haitian people trying to escape or come to terms with past experiences revolving around a group of prison guards/torturers that they call Dew Breakers. The thing I liked best about this book was probably how Danticat made everything into one huge gray area. We didn't just get the perspectives of the people who were harmed by the dew breakers but also the point of view of one of the dew breakers. I also seriously enjoyed how the stories came full circle. ( )
  Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
This is an amazing book, pure and simple. The plot is as remarkable as the telling. What appear to be disconnected short stories are really different connections to one man, the Dew Breaker. In Haiti during the dictatorial 1960s this man was responsible for torturing and killing innocent people. Years later, with his evil past behind him, the Dew Breaker is trying to live a quiet life as a barber in Brooklyn, New York. Through the various chapters we meet his connections - his family, his victims, his community. His past slowly comes out in small segments. It behooves the reader to pay close attention to the detail Danticat gives to each chapter, to each story. A mystery from a previous chapter could be solved in the next. A seemingly meaningless character in one chapter becomes the key to everything in another. This was definitely one of my favorites. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jan 16, 2015 |
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Maybe this is the beginning of madness...
Forgive me for what I am saying.
Read it...quietly, quietly.
--Osip Mandelstam
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My father is gone.
Aline had never imagined that people like Beatrice existed, men and women whose tremendous agonies filled every blank space in their lives.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0349117896, Paperback)

In her third novel, The Dew Breaker, the prolific Edwidge Danticat spins a series of related stories around a shadowy central figure, a Haitian immigrant to the U.S. who reveals to his artist daughter that he is not, as she believes, a prison escapee, but a former prison guard, skilled in torture and the other violent control methods of a brutal regime. "Your father was the hunter," he confesses, "he was not the prey." Into this brilliant opening, Danticat tucks the seeds of all that follows: the tales of the prison guard's victims, of their families, of those who recognize him decades later on the streets of New York, of those who never see him again, but are so haunted that they believe he's still pursuing them. (A dew breaker, we learn, is a government functionary who comes in the early morning to arrest someone or to burn a house down, breaking the dew on the grass that he crosses.) Although it is frustrating, sometimes, to let go of one narrative thread to follow another, The Dew Breaker is a beautifully constructed novel that spirals back to the reformed prison guard at the end, while holding unanswered the question of redemption. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:22 -0400)

A scarred Brooklyn resident remembers his past life as a Haitian torturer in the 1960s, a period during which he waged personal and political battles before moving to New York, where his past continues to haunt him.

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