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Everything Inside: Stories

by Edwidge Danticat

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1637128,401 (3.95)31
From the best-selling author of Claire of the Sea Light and Brother, I'm Dying, a long-awaited return to fiction: a gorgeous collection of stories about community, family and love; about the forces that pull us together or drive us apart--a book rich with vividly imagined characters, hard-won wisdom, and humanity. In these eight stories by widely acclaimed, prizewinning author Danticat--some of which have appeared The New Yorker--a romance unexpectedly sparks between two wounded friends; a marriage ends for what seems like noble reasons, but leads to irreperable consequences; a young woman holds on to an impossible dream, even as she fights for her life, two lovers reunite after the biggest tragedy in their country and in their lives. Vividly set in places from Miami to Port-au-Prince to a small unnamed country in the Caribbean and beyond, these beautiful and moving stories showcase one of the world's most renowned voices at her absolute best.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
A fascinating and dense collection of short stories, mostly about the lives of people who emigrated from Haiti to the US. I don't know much about Haiti but enjoyed learning more about the country and its people through these stories and trying to decode the Haitian creole phrases with my Canadian school French. ( )
  leslico | Jan 19, 2021 |
an excellent collection of stories, all unique and powerful in their own way ( )
  viviennestrauss | Jul 3, 2020 |
I've read Ms Danticat's work before, Eyes, Breath, and Memory, The Dew Breaker, and Claire of the Sea Light, and have always been intrigued by the stories surrounding the lives of Haitians, their struggles living with brutal leaders, harsh economics, the plight of escaping paired with the yearning to return. In many of the stories presented here, Haiti is not so much the setting as it is the place returned to, or escaped from. In fact Miami's Little Haiti is depicted in several pieces. I think my favorite story was the first, Dosas. The first line: "Elsie was with Gaspard, her live-in renal-failure patient, when her ex-husband called to inform her that his girlfriend, Olivia, had been kidnapped in Port-au-Prince." Danticat manages to set up a complicated relationship history in one sentence. A Dosas is the extra person, the third wheel, which is the way she thought of herself when her husband and best friend became involved, the narrator eventually exiting out of the ménage a trois. "They were soon like a trio of siblings, of whom Olivia was the dosa, the last, untwinned, or surplus child." Often her first lines got as much information into it as possible so that the reader could jump right in to the meat of the story.
In the second story, a daughter returns to Haiti to a dying father she never knew.
This is followed by one about a girl who gets aids from a man who promised a life by buying her a cheap ring. Dying is certainly a theme in most of the stories. As the LA Times wrote, "As in Danticat’s oeuvre overall, death as a theme is never far from the center in Everything Inside. This is existentialist fiction: everyone is exiled in their own suffering, we can’t fully know another’s pain although we can touch it briefly, and our full essence — everything inside — is not manifest until the moment of death." Though this may seem like a topic one is not anxious to read about, the language and the style of the stories will make you glad you explored the collection.

Some lines:
And some marriages, in hindsight, just seem like detours, sometimes wonderful detours, you take to get where you need to go.

But I had never heard anyone announce to their twenty-five-year-old daughter, as my mother had the week before, that the father they’d never met, a certain Monsieur Maurice Dejean, was gravely ill and dying.

I am the girl—the woman—who is always going to be looking for stability, a safe harbor. I am never going to forget that I can easily lose everything I have, including my life, in one instant.

You are always saying hello to them while preparing them to say goodbye to you. You are always dreading the separations, while cheering them on, to get bigger, smarter, to crawl, babble, walk, speak, to have birthdays that you hope you’ll live to see, that you pray they’ll live to see. Jeanne will now know what it’s like to live that way, to have a part of yourself walking around unattached to you, and to love that part so much that you sometimes feel as though you were losing your mind.

She pointed to some coils of light winding their way throughout the city. They were people, hundreds of them, dressed in white and carrying candles as they walked toward the port and the sea. “It’s called a shedding,” she said. “As you walk to the sea, you shed from both your body and spirit all the awful things that have happened to you in the previous year.” ( )
  novelcommentary | May 13, 2020 |
Danticat's collection of eight powerful stories focuses, as expected, on characters from Haiti and other locations in the Caribbean, on their struggles with identity, loss, memory, family, and adapting to life in the US. All of them seem to be searching for a sense of home, of belonging. In the first story, "Dosas," Elsie, a home healthcare provider who lost her husband to her best friend, receives a disturbing phone call from her ex. Her reaction shows how hard it is to break the bonds of love. "In the Old Days" focuses on a young woman meeting her dying father for the first time. In "Port-au-Prince Marriage Special," a couple who own a hotel assume financial responsibility when their son's nanny is diagnosed with AIDS. "The Gift" reunites two former lovers years after the tragic Haitian earthquake. "Hot Air Balloons" explores the relationship between college roommates from very different backgrounds. My favorite, "Sunrise, Sunset," focuses on the connections between a new mother who seems to be suffering from post-partum depression and her own mother, who is falling into dementia. The baby's christening marks a turning point for both. In "Seven Stories" (the longest and, to me, the least engaging), a reporter visits a childhood friend, the daughter of an assassinated prime minister who returned to her country and is now married to the current prime minister. "Without Inspection," the story of an illegal immigrant's last but happy days in Miami, is a heartbreaker.

While some stories were more engaging than others, the writing is consistently fine. As always, Danticat is a master at depicting the Caribbean diaspora. ( )
  Cariola | Jan 27, 2020 |
Bittersweet collection of stories, all with a Haitian connection. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Jan 17, 2020 |
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From the best-selling author of Claire of the Sea Light and Brother, I'm Dying, a long-awaited return to fiction: a gorgeous collection of stories about community, family and love; about the forces that pull us together or drive us apart--a book rich with vividly imagined characters, hard-won wisdom, and humanity. In these eight stories by widely acclaimed, prizewinning author Danticat--some of which have appeared The New Yorker--a romance unexpectedly sparks between two wounded friends; a marriage ends for what seems like noble reasons, but leads to irreperable consequences; a young woman holds on to an impossible dream, even as she fights for her life, two lovers reunite after the biggest tragedy in their country and in their lives. Vividly set in places from Miami to Port-au-Prince to a small unnamed country in the Caribbean and beyond, these beautiful and moving stories showcase one of the world's most renowned voices at her absolute best.

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