cover image Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

Edwidge Danticat, Princeton Univ., $19.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-691-14018-6

“In order to shield our shattered collective psyche from a long history of setbacks and disillusionment... we cultivate communal and historical amnesia...,” writes novelist Danticat in this lean collection of jaw-breaking horrors side by side with luminous insights. This volume, which grows out of the Toni Morrison lecture series at Princeton, is uneven and inorganic in patches. But in Danticat’s many remarkable stories and pensées from the gut, one locates the inimitable power of truth. Authorship becomes an act of subversion when one’s words might be read and acted on by someone risking his or her life if only to read them. Danticat reminds us that, in a cruel twist of fate, her native Haiti, earthquake-and-poverty-torn, gained independence, in a bloody slave uprising, not long after the U.S. did: our ties, usually unexamined, run painfully deep. Whether eulogizing her family, writing on leading journalist Jean Dominique’s assassination and exiled author Marie Vieux-Chauvet, or discussing “Madison Avenue Primitive” Jean-Michel Basquiat, Danticat documents what it means for an immigrant writer to create dangerously for immigrant readers who read dangerously, awakened and no longer participants in a culture of “historical amnesia.” (Oct.)