Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

1995. 224 pages. Paperback.

From: The public library

In a nutshell:

Krik? Krak! is a collection of stories centered around Haitian women in the past and present, on the island and in the United States.  The title refers to the how Haitian storytellers begin.  The storyteller says Krik?  The listeners respond with Krak!  And the story begins.


This is the first book I’ve read by Edwidge Danticat.  I had heard her name before, but never read anything by her.  The recent events in Haiti and the subsequent media focus spurred me to finally check out a book by her.

In the epilogue of this short story collection, Danticat talks in lyrical prose about how writing was considered suspect in Haiti.  And a woman who wrote?  This was not done.  But there still were stories needing to be told.

Kitchen poets, they call them.  They slip phrases into their stew and wrap meaning around their pork before frying it.  They make narrative dumplings and stuff their daughter’s mouths so they say nothing more.

My favorite stories were the first and the last.  “Children of the Sea” is a back-and-forth narrative between a young activist who is escaping on a raft filled with more doom than hope and the fierce girl who loved him, who remains in Haiti with her parents.  The narrator of “Caroline’s Wedding” has just become a U.S. citizen, and the following story describes her close relationship with her sister Caroline, her stubborn mother, and with her deceased father who she and Caroline see in their dreams.

Both stories reference song lyrics about Haiti that go like this: “Beloved Haiti, there is no place like you.  I had to leave you before I could understand you.”

I definitely plan on reading more Danticat in the future.  Does anyone have any recommendations?


Filed under Short Stories

2 responses to “Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

  1. Easmanie Michel

    Hello there,

    All of Edwidge Danticat’s books are profound. “Brother, I’m Dying” depicts the death of Danticat’s father and briefly glimpse into the Haitian immigrant situation in the United States. “Breath, Eyes, Memory” is poignant. Start with any of these or any of her other books and you will not be disappointed.

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