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The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat

The Farming of Bones (original 1998; edition 2013)

by Edwidge Danticat (Author)

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1,0952611,471 (4.01)139
Title:The Farming of Bones
Authors:Edwidge Danticat (Author)
Info:Soho Press (2013), Edition: Reprint, 336 pages
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The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat (1998)



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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Glad I was able to get this from the library. Made it to page 25. I don’t care for the writing - it feels too contrived - like he’s trying to hard to be obscure and literary. ( )
  catzkc | Mar 23, 2018 |
I just re-read this novel and it was as powerful as the first time, but with a couple of caveats. The form of the novel kind of breaks down partway through for reasons I couldn't discern. And second, with a bit more historical knowledge, I find Danticat's decision to center the story on cane workers kind of flummoxing, since the majority of Haitians murdered in 1937 were small farmers on the northwestern Dominican frontier. Nevertheless, Amabelle's voice is lyrical and uncompromising at the same time, and I still recommend the novel.

Originally read 2/2010: A lovely, but heartbreaking, novel that centers on the genocide of Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic in 1939. I really liked the narrative structure--alternating long chapters of standard, past-tense narration with shorter fragments of dreamlike present-tense narration. I also appreciated the conclusion of the novel, which eschews any easy resolution or happy ending to such a horrible historical event. All in all, though, the novel felt slightly detached to me. I'm not sure that it succeeds in conveying the magnitude of the genocide, either in terms of its breadth or its depth. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
'are they here or did they all die in the killing over there?'
By sally tarbox on 30 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
Interesting read, that deals with the horrific 'ethnic cleansing' of 1937, suffered by poor Haitian immigrants living in the neighbouring Dominican Republic. I knew nothing of this era, which is brought to life through the narrative of Haitian Amabelle; the frenzied attempts to escape back home, the not knowing if loved ones are dead or alive.

I can't say I found this to be a massively compelling read; perhaps it should have been, given the subject matter. But Danticat writes simply and in short sentences which fail to engage and the characters felt flat and while the events were shocking, I couldn't feel particularly interested in them. ( )
  starbox | Jul 10, 2016 |
This is a fabulous book about the 1937 Parsley Massacre on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It happened close to the beginning of Trujillo's reign and was a massacre of Haitians living and working in the Dominican Republic. It's called the Parsley Massacre because parsley is a word that is pronounced differently between the Spanish and the Kreyol languages and was used to tell who belonged to what country.

That is the historical background, but what makes this book great is the fantastic characters and the voice of Amabelle, the Haitian worker who escapes the massacre with her body but leaves her happiness behind. I thought the whole book was done so well - the writing, the characters, the setting, the pace - everything. I was afraid that a book with such a dark topic would be overwhelmingly sad to read, but Danticat has a way of making the sadness not seem dreary. I'll definitely read more of her books. ( )
  japaul22 | Jun 29, 2016 |
The Farming of the Bones by Edwidge Danticat was a surprising and eye-opening read for me. My first clue that this was going to take me somewhere that I would be uncomfortable to read about was when I realized the setting of this book was the Dominican Republic in 1937. Then I read of Generalissimo Trujillo, who I knew as the dictator who was responsible for the deaths of over 50,000 people. Yet this story opened gently, told in the words of the main character Amabelle Desir and gives no hint of the violence that is to come.

The story overall is subtle and understated and builds slowly. This author writes of horrific events that came to be known as the Parsley Massacre in a sparse way yet vividly conveys the shock, disbelief and fear that was felt as Amabelle stumbles through this time of terror, searching for her loved ones and making her escape to Haiti.

The Farming of the Bones is a story of loss and grief. I felt that this was a very personal novel for the author as it projected a feeling of giving evidence or bearing witness. For me, I found this story to be a hauntingly beautiful written example of man’s constant inhumanity to man. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Dec 10, 2015 |
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Jephthah called together the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, "Let me cross over," the men of Gilead asked him, "Are you an Ephraimite?" If he replied, "No," they said, "All right, say 'Shibboleth.'" If he said, "Sibboleth," because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. 40,000 were killed at the time.
---Judges 12:4-6
In confidence to you, Mètres Dio, Mother of the Rivers.--Amabelle Désir
First words
His name is Sebastien Onius.
I did not want you to think love was not scarce because it is, that it flowed freely from everywhere, or that it was something you could expect without price from everyone. (p.208)
It is perhaps the great discomfort of those trying to silence the world to discover that we have voices sealed inside our heads, voices that with each passing day, grow even louder than the clamor of the world outside. (p.266)
It took more than prayers to heal me after the slaughter...I wept all the time...Ii took a love closer to the earth, closer to my own body, to stop my tears. (p.272)
...this child will be yours...like watercress belongs to water and river lilies belong to the river. (p.9)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140280499, Paperback)

In a 1930s Dominican Republic village, the scream of a woman in labor rings out like the shot heard around Hispaniola. Every detail of the birth scene--the balance of power between the middle-aged Señora and her Haitian maid, the babies' skin color, not to mention which child is to survive--reverberates throughout Edwidge Danticat's Farming of Bones. In fact, rather than a celebration of fecundity, the unexpected double delivery gels into a metaphor for the military-sponsored mass murder of Haitian emigrants. As the Señora's doctor explains: "Many of us start out as twins in the belly and do away with the other."

But Danticat's powerful second novel is far from a currently modish victimization saga, and can hold its own with such modern classics as One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Color Purple. Its watchful narrator, the Señora's shy Haitian housemaid, describes herself as "one of those sea stones that sucks its colors inside and loses its translucence once it's taken out into the sun." An astute observer of human character, Amabelle Désir is also a conduit for the author's tart, poetic prose. Her lover, Sebastian, has "arms as wide as one of my bare thighs," while the Señora's complicit officer husband is "still shorter than the average man, even in his military boots."

The orphaned Amabelle comes to assume almost messianic proportions, but she is entirely fictional, as is the town of Alegría where the tale begins. The genocide and exodus, however, are factual. Indeed, the atrocities committed by Dominican president Rafael Trujillo's army back in 1937 rival those of Duvalier's Touton Macoutes. History has rendered Trujillo's carnage much less visible than Duvalier's, but no less painful. As Amabelle's father once told her, "Misery won't touch you gentle. It always leaves its thumbprints on you; sometimes it leaves them for others to see, sometimes for nobody but you to know of." Thanks to Danticat's stellar novel, the world will now know. --Jean Lenihan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:08 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The Farming of Bones begins in 1937 in a village on the Dominican side of the river that separates the country from Haiti. Amabelle Desir, Haitian-born and a faithful maidservant to the Dominican family that took her in when she was orphaned, and her lover Sebastien, an itinerant sugarcane cutter, decide they will marry and return to Haiti at the end of the cane season. However, hostilities toward Haitian laborers find a vitriolic spokesman in the ultra nationalist Generalissimo Trujillo who calls for an ethnic cleansing of his Spanish speaking country. As rumors of Haitian persecution become fact, as anxiety turns to terror, Amabelle and Sebastien's dreams are leveled to the most basic human desire: to endure. Based on a little known historical event, this extraordinarily moving novel memorializes the forgotten victims of nationalist madness and the deeply felt passion and grief of its survivors.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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