BookBrowse Reviews The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat

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The Dew Breaker

by Edwidge Danticat

The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2004, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2005, 256 pages

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'Danticat is a crafter of subtle, gorgeous sentences and scenes'. Novel

From the Book Jacket: 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.


Comment: From the author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and Krik? Krak!, comes a 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.

Selected Reviews
"The slow accumulation of details pinpointing the past's effects on the present makes for powerful reading...and Danticat is a crafter of subtle, gorgeous sentences and scenes." - Publishers Weekly.

"Starred Review. Danticat's masterful depiction of the emotional and spiritual reverberations of tyranny and displacement reveals the intricate mesh of relationships that defines every life, and the burden of traumatic inheritances: the crimes and tragedies that one generation barely survives, the next must reconcile.'" - Booklist.

Did you know?
The term dew breaker is Danticat's interpretation of the creole expression 'choukèt laroze', used to describe a government henchman, sometime torturer, during the 29 year period (1957-1986) when Haiti was ruled by 'Papa Doc' and 'Baby Doc' Duvalier. The name derives from the time of day when they usually captured their victims. The novel focuses on the life of one particular 'dew breaker', now living in Florida. The nine chapters are self contained short stories which together form a satisfying whole.

This review is from the March 2, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



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