Haitian-American Author: Edwidge Danticat
Haitian writer. Author of “Krik? Krak! ” (1995) “Breath, Eyes, Memory” (1994) and “The Farming of Bones” (1998)
Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When she was two years old, her father André immigrated to New York, to be followed two years later by her mother Rose. This left Danticat and her younger brother Eliab to be raised by her aunt and uncle. Although her formal education in Haiti was in French, she spoke Kreyòl at home. While still in Haiti, Danticat wrote her first short story about a girl who was visited by a clan of women each night. At the age of 12, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, to join her parents in a heavily Haitian American neighborhood. As she was an immigrant teenager, Edwidge’s accent and upbringing were a source of discomfort for her, thus she turned to literature for solace. Two years later she published her first writing, in English, “A Haitian-American Christmas: Cremace and Creole Theatre,” in New Youth Connections, a citywide magazine written by teenagers. She later wrote a story about her immigration experience for New Youth Connections, “A New World Full of Strangers.” In the introduction to Starting With I, an anthology of stories from the magazine, Danticat wrote, “When I was done with the [immigration] piece, I felt that my story was unfinished, so I wrote a short story, which later became a book, my first novel: Breath, Eyes, Memory…. Writing for New Youth Connections had given me a voice. My silence was destroyed completely, indefinitely.
After graduating from Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn, New York, Danticat entered Barnard College in New York City. Initially she had intended on studying to become a teacher, but her love of writing won out and she received a BA in French literature. In 1993, she earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Brown University—her thesis, entitled “My turn in the fire – an abridged novel”, was the basis for her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, which was published by Soho Press in 1994. Four years later it became an Oprah’s Book Club selection.
Since completing her MFA, Danticat has taught creative writing at both New York University and the University of Miami. She has also worked with filmmakers Patricia Benoit and Jonathan Demme, on projects on Haitian art and documentaries about Haïti. Her short stories have appeared in over 25 periodicals and have been anthologized several times. Her work has been translated into numerous other languages including French, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.Danticat is a strong advocate for issues affecting Haitians abroad and at home. In 2009, she lent her voice and words to Poto Mitan: Haitian Women Pillars of the Global Economy, a documentary about the impact of globalization on five women from different generations.Danticat is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Danticat has also won fiction awards from Essence and Seventeen magazines, was named “1 of 20 people in their twenties who will make a difference” in Harper’s Bazaar, was featured in New York Times Magazine as one of “30 under 30” people to watch, and was called one of the “15 Gutsiest Women of the Year” by Jane Magazine. Continue Reading
- 1994 Fiction Award The Caribbean Writer
- 1995 Woman of Achievement Award, Barnard College
- Pushcart Short Story Prize for “Between the Pool and the Gardenias”
- National Book Award nomination for Krik? Krak!
- 1996 Best Young American Novelists for Breath, Eyes, Memory by Granta
- Lila-Wallace-Reader’s Digest Grant
- 1999 American Book Award for The Farming of the Bones
- The International Flaiano Prize for literature
- The Super Flaiano Prize for The Farming of the Bones
- 2005 The Story Prize for The Dew Breaker
- 2007 National Book Award nomination for Brother, I’m Dying
- 2007 The National Book Critics Circle Award for Brother, I’m Dying
- 2008 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Brother, I’m Dying
- 2009 MacArthur Fellows Program Genius grant
- 2011 Langston Hughes Medal, City College of New York
- 2011 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for Create Dangerously