Critical Context

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After earning enough money by driving a taxi and working as a laborer, Edwidge Danticat’s parents brought her to the United States when she was twelve. Her first book, Breath, Eyes, Memory, a novel about four generations of Haitian women, was published in 1994. She was twenty-five years old and had earned an undergraduate degree at Barnard College and a Master of Fine Arts degree at Brown University. Her debut novel was widely praised, and it was picked by Oprah Winfrey’s book club and stayed on the best-seller lists for a short time. Krik? Krak! was nominated for the National Book Award in 1995.

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Danticat became a leading literary spokesperson for the million Haitians who, either voluntarily or involuntarily, have left their native country. In 1996, Granta magazine named her one of its “20 Best Young American Novelists,” and Time Magazine named her one of “30 under 30” creative people to watch in 1995. Her novel The Farming of Bones (1999), about the 1937 slaughter of thousands of Haitian sugarcane workers in the Dominican Republic by dictator Rafael Trujillo, won an American Book Award. Danticat is often praised for her political activism in support of Haitian immigrants.

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