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The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat

The Dew Breaker (2004)

by Edwidge Danticat

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798None11,516 (3.64)65
  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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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This woman writes really beautifully. This collection of linked stories explores the relationship between hunter and prey, during the dictatorship in Haiti. The main protagonist is one of the hunters, a man who commits terrible atrocities before he makes a mistake in following an order, and has to run from his masters. At first, he changes his story, so that it’s believed he was a victim of the regime, but eventually he has to confess – and the first story in this book is his confession to his grown daughter.

The protagonists of these stories are the many people who surround this man – his victims and their survivors, the people who fight against the dictatorship, the ones who abet it, and the bystanders. Danticat moves artfully through time and space - through this shadowy time in Haiti, among immigrants in the US, and sometimes back to Haiti in search of answers. There is the truth of what happens, and then there are the tales that people tell, the ways they live with the roles they’ve played.
( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 24, 2013 |
This story is told through the interconnected stories of a Haitian prison guard and his former victims or victims' family members, all of whom are making new lives for themselves in New York City. The characters are complex. The former prison guard is working as a barber, and adored by his adult daughter who believes him to be a victim of the Duvalier regime, not a part of it. All are affected by the lives and people they left behind in Haiti.

The stories do not all come together towards a single resolution. There are no dramatic confrontations among the characters from each story. But, together, the paint a picture of survival, of picking up the pieces and rebuilding a life. ( )
  LynnB | Jan 25, 2013 |
This book is a collection of stories about a Haitian family trying to survive the political chaos and violence that dominated much of Haiti. The story tells of the emotional scarring and dealing with emotional baggage that results from a life of pain. The daughter of the main character tries to understand her father's silence about his past, only to learn that he may not be a victim in the way that she thought. An excellent resource for a world lit class or history class, with a lot of cultural background. This book is not a light read and deals with a lot of issues that students from difficult backgrounds would be able to relate to. Teachers would be able to use this book to create an entire unit about the revolutions in Haiti, social studies, language, post-colonial countries, the list is endless.
  rachelhunnell1 | Oct 22, 2011 |
For me, this book makes more sense as a collection of short stories than as a novel. While some of the stories focus on the same characters, they're placed in such a way as to remove all of the suspense. Additionally, their interspersing throughout the full of the book means that you don't become particularly engaged with any one of the characters. This might not be such a problem except in that all of the stories/chapters are clearly supposed to work in such a way that one full narrative is achieved. I'd like to say that that happens, but I don't think the book ever really succeeds in webbing together the stories in a smooth affective manner. Instead, many of the characters seem to sound similar, without enough individuality or voice to separate them from the rest of the work, and the breaks are jarring. Even now, looking back, I find the first story in the book the most affecting and engaging---after that first story, nothing caught my attention or felt so unique, and there was, literally, simply no suspense.

Danticat's prose is, simply, too simple for this book--the voices are too similar, the plot/meaning too sparse, and the effect too broad. There is beauty in some of the simplicity here, but readers are left running to catch up and understand how the work comes togehter, often uninterested in the moment-to-moment reports as given since characters are never really clear enough to draw empathy. In general, I'd recommend many of these "chapters" as short stories in themselves, and I believe I even once read one in an anthology, but I would not recommend the book on as a whole, but for readers who read the three clearly interlocking stories, primarily the first and the last. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Oct 8, 2011 |
In order to read The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat I found that I like it better if I thought of it as a collection of short stories with a common theme rather than as a full length novel. At the same time however I really liked trying to see what each story had in common and how they related to each other. Every story was based on a set of people who had been affected by what had happened in Haiti and how they were living their life after the tyrant who had been running the country was taken from power. Every person in each story was keeping a secret and lying to someone whom is supposed to be close to them to keep their past hidden. Most of them seemed ashamed by what they had done to or by them. Others did not even realize that what they had done had been wrong in the first place. My favorite story had to be “Monkey Tails” because of the fact that it was not as depressing as the rest of them. I liked the idea that his life had turned out well despite what had happened when he was a child. In this story it was the mother and most of the town who were in on the secret. It seemed to me that the only person who did not know who his father was had been Michel. The lie that his mother tells seems less condemnable to me because it seems to me that it is told for less selfish reasons and it does not negatively affect so many people. In the end of the story we even find out that he keeps to the same story that his mother told him whenever people ask about his father. I like the story of “The Bridal Seamstress” because of the very opposite reasons that I liked “Monkey Tails”. This story showed how what happened to her in Haiti affected her and how she was never able to move away from it. Beatrice Saint Fort is a famous bridal seamstress who is about to get her name in the paper and yet she believes that the man who hurt her so long ago because she would not dance with him is following her everywhere and living on her street. Even when Alina Cajuste checks out the house and tells her that it is abandoned Beatrice only thinks that this is the most logical thing because the man must have to live in abandoned houses in order to hide from the authorities. The only thing that I am unsure of is how the father from the first story relates to each of the stories. He could be the father in “Monkey Tails” and the man in “The Bridal Seamstress” but something makes me think that he is not because I can’t wrap my head around all of the places he would have had to have been in such a short time. While I liked some of the stories I have to say that for the majority of the book I did not enjoy it. When she decided to have a different voice for every chapter she sacrificed being able to go into more depth into the characters and because I was continually meeting new people in a new setting I was unable to really become attached to any of them. Some stories I wish had been longer and others I just could not get into. ( )
  WarBetweentheBooks | Sep 22, 2011 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:52 -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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