Each of us has defining moments, experiences that alter our lives forever. But what happens when these moments occur against our wills when our fates are vulnerable, even powerless, to the forces of nature, violence, political and social injustice?
Edwidge Danticat explores these transformative events in her new book of fiction, a work of connected stories, titled for a child character named Claire Limyè LanmèClaire of the Sea Light. Like Danticat's previous works (including Breath, Eyes, Memory
and Brother, I'm Dying
), this book has its foundation in her native Haiti, where she was born in 1969 and lived until the age of twelve when she moved to the United States.
In Claire of the Sea Light
, Haiti, once again, is her own formidable character. One with a deeply capricious nature: by turns sublime, terrible,...
Beyond the Book
Since its independence in 1804, Haiti has struggled with lawlessness, due in large part to being a former slave nation that, after it won its independence, was left with the massive challenge of creating a stable and autonomous society while being actively isolated by the dominant trading nations of France, Britain and the USA.
Before 1804 Haiti was a French colony called St. Domingue that occupied the entire island of Hispaniola. By the 1760s it had become the most profitable colony in the Americas, with highly successful sugar and coffee industries. With this success, however, came the exploitation of African slaves. The French Revolution inspired slaves in northern St. Domingue to organize a rebellion, which began in 1791. This rebellion, known as the Haitian Revolution,...