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Brother, I'm Dying (2007)

by Edwidge Danticat

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7242521,598 (4.02)111
Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph, a charismatic pastor, as her "second father" when she was placed in his care at age four when her parents left Haiti for America. So she experiences a jumble of emotions when, at twelve, she joins her parents in New York City, whom she struggles to remember--she has left behind Joseph and the only home she's ever known. The story of a new life in a new country while fearing for those still in Haiti soon becomes a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. In 2004, his life threatened by a gang, the frail, 81-year-old Joseph makes his way to Miami, where he thinks he will be safe. Instead, he is detained by the Department of Homeland Security, brutally imprisoned, and dead within days. It was a story that made headlines around the world.--From publisher description.… (more)

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Available at RMIT
  Egaro | Dec 9, 2018 |
Brother, I am Dying by Edwidge Danticat is a must read for people to learn more about Haiti, the author and her family and the problems with immigrating to the United States.

The author was only four years old when her parents left for United States. Her uncle Joseph was left in charge of her and her brother Andre. At that age, she did not realize what was happening. So they lived under the protection of their aunt and uncle for eight years. When living in Haiti became more and more dangerous, her parents sent for them. It was heartbreaking for her to leave her uncle Joseph and Haiti and but it was necessary. The last stories of her uncle coming to the United States are so horrible that I kept hoping for a happier ending but it was not to be.

This story is full of tender moments of love, forgiveness, folk tales, family lessons, and tragedy.

Please either read or listen to it. ( )
  Carolee888 | Oct 30, 2017 |
Award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1969. By the age of four, her parents had immigrated to America, leaving Edwidge and her younger brother Andre to be raised by their aunt and uncle. As a result, she quickly came to see them as a second set of parents to both herself and her brother. So, Edwidge stayed in Haiti with her beloved Uncle Joseph and Aunt Denise for the next eight years.

Edwidge was twelve years old when her parents sent for their two children to come join the rest of their family in New York City. Although she was elated to be reunited with her family again, she was also deeply saddened to be leaving Haiti behind. As she slowly began to make a life for herself in a new country, Edwidge struggled to adjust to living so far away from those she loved. Although their hearts and thoughts were never far from those whom they loved, Edwidge and her family continued to fear for the safety of those still living in Haiti as they watched the political situation rapidly deteriorate.

In 2004, tensions reached a boiling point and the Haitian people were swept up in events beyond their control. Life changed drastically for Edwidge as well: on the same sweltering July day that she learned that she was pregnant, she also learned that her father was suffering from end-stage pulmonary fibrosis. As she struggled to process such disparate events - tempering her sense of exhilaration with a certain amount of devastation - Edwidge eventually decided that her family's complex story deserved to be told; as much to commemorate her father's close relationship with his brother, as for the benefit of her relatives still living in Haiti.

I have to say that this is an extraordinary book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and found Ms. Danticat's story to be beautifully written and deeply thought-provoking - filled with a poignancy and bravery that I absolutely admire. I would certainly give this book an A+! ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Aug 28, 2017 |
I hated having to read this book when I did because I was in the wilderness and really just wanted to go all transcendental on Northern Minnesota. This story is simply heart-breaking, but it's done very well and might have earned five stars had I read it under any other circumstances. ( )
  StefanieBrookTrout | Feb 4, 2017 |
Intelligent, thoughtful, and heartbreaking. A first-hand account of one man's ordeal, which illustrates in stark relief the way U.S. policies on immigration have combined with ignorance and systemic racism to cause untold suffering in Haitians. Danticat allows us to get to know her uncle in all his humanity and dignity before taking us step by step through his most terrible suffering and death at the hands of immigration officers. Most of this slim memoir is full of love and joy, even in the midst of the coups and day to day violence suffered by Danticat's family members in Haiti. By focusing on these deep family relationships Danticat allows us to experience the horror of what happens to Haitians in an entirely personal and visceral way that no amount of statistical analysis or big history can allow us to understand. I liked this memoir a great deal more than Danticat's fiction--it was grounded and real in a way that her fiction is not for me. ( )
  poingu | Jan 23, 2016 |
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To begin with death. To work my way back into life, and then, finally, to return to death. Or else: the vanity of trying to say anything about anyone.

Paul Auster, The Invention of Solitude
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For the next generation of "cats": Nadira, Ezekiel, Zora, Timothy and Mira
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I found out I was pregnant the same day that my father's rapid weight loss and chronic shortness of breath were positively diagnosed as end-stage pulmonary fibrosis.
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