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The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
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The Dew Breaker (2004)

by Edwidge Danticat

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9833513,335 (3.62)81
  1. 10
    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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English (34)  French (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
This primarily reads like a collection of short stories, but they are linked with some common characters appearing in several of the episodes. Basically, it describes incidents in the lives of Haitian immigrants in the U.S., and, in some cases, describes their lives in Haiti prior to their immigration, or in one case, on a return trip.

The book was the "One Read" book for Bunker Hill CC this past year, and even though BHCC gave me the boot several years ago, I was interested in reading what they thought would be useful for their students. It probably would have helped me when I did teach. I did have a student who came from Haiti. As I recall, he made a rather beautiful web site about his home country.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
I liked the individual stories-- especially the way minor characters in one story were the main character in another. The collection does raise some interesting questions about what people are capable of in desperate situations, and how to appropriately judge their actions. I did find the threads hard to follow through the whole collection, hard to keep characters straight especially through time and around the globe. Still, this is a worthwhile read and a good introduction to Haitian literature. ( )
  technodiabla | Oct 12, 2017 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Maybe this is the beginning of madness...
Forgive me for what I am saying.
Read it...quietly, quietly.
--Osip Mandelstam
Dedication
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My father is gone.
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

From the universally acclaimed author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and Krik? Krak!, a brilliant, deeply moving work of fiction that explores the world of a “dew breaker”—a torturer—a man whose brutal crimes in the country of his birth lie hidden beneath his new American reality. We meet him late in his life. He is a quiet man, a husband and father, a hardworking barber, a kindly landlord to the men who live in a basement apartment in his home. He is a fixture in his Brooklyn neighborhood, recognizable by the terrifying scar on his face. As the book unfolds, moving seamlessly between Haiti in the 1960s and New York City today, we enter the lives of those around him: his devoted wife and rebellious daughter; his sometimes unsuspecting, sometimes apprehensive neighbors, tenants, and clients. And we meet some of his victims. In the book’s powerful denouement, we return to the Haiti of the dew breaker’s past, to his last, desperate act of violence, and to his first encounter with the woman who will offer him a form of redemption—albeit imperfect—that will change him forever. The Dew Breaker is a book of interconnected lives—a book of love, remorse, and hope; of rebellions both personal and political; of the compromises we often make in order to move beyond the most intimate brushes with history. Unforgettable, deeply resonant, The Dew Breaker proves once more that in Edwidge Danticat we have a major American writer.… (more)

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