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ep 05 “more joy” | Edwidge Danticat

Writing Home: American Voices from the Caribbean

September 23, 2021

“What would goodness be like? What would more joy be like?” – Edwidge Danticat

Tami and Kaiama connect with the illustrious Haitian-African-American author Edwidge Danticat. In this conversation, the three grapple with how they are emotionally processing the pandemic through writing and reading literature. Edwidge speaks on whether literature survives on suffering, her newfound quest to find goodness within her work, and whether she’s guilty of being a “serial killer of her characters.” As Edwidge discusses the precarity of writing at home during the pandemic, she reveals how she navigates her toughest critics: her daughters.

Edwidge Danticat is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, The Farming of Bones, Claire of the Sea Light, and Everything Inside. She is the editor of The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Diaspora in the United States, Haiti Noir and Haiti Noir 2. Shehas written seven books for young adults and children, Anacaona, Behind the Mountains, Eight Days, The Last Mapou, Mama’s Nightingale, My Mommy Medicine, and Untwine, as well as a travel narrative, After the Dance, A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel. Her memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, was a National Book Award finalist in 2007 and a National Book Critics Circle Award winner for autobiography. She is a 2009 MacArthur Fellow and a two-time winner of The Story Prize, a 2020 United States Artist fellow, and winner of the 2020 Vilcek Prize for Literature.

Reading List:

Edwidge’s writing:
“Mourning in Place,” The New York Review (2020)
“One Thing,” a short story from The New York Times Magazine’s Decameron Project (2020)
The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (2017)
Claire of the Sea Light (2013)
Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994)

Works Edwidge mentioned:
“Goodness: Altruism and the Literary Imagination,” an annual Harvard University Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality by Toni Morrison (2012)
Goodness And The Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison (2019)

Authors who Edwidge recommended:
Katia Ulysse
Fabienne Josaphat
Angie Cruz
Doreen St. Felix
Roxane Gay
Nelly Rosario
Tayari Jones

photo credit | Carl Juste