Introduction to Krik? Krak! Stories about Haiti and Haitian Culture
About the Author • Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-American author. • She was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 19, 1969.
About the Author • Edwidge’s father moved from Haiti to New York when she was only two years old. Her mother followed him two years later, so Edwidge and her younger brother, Eliab, lived with her aunt and uncle until she was 12 years old. • She speaks both French and Haitian Creole as a result of her upbringing.
About the Author • Moving to New York was a difficult experience for Edwidge. She was self-conscious about her accent and her culture’s customs, which were different from American customs. • Edwidge turned to literature and writing during these difficult early years.
About the Author • Edwidge published her first story at the age of 14. • She then went on to write a short story about her immigration experience, which she later developed into her first novel: Breath, Eyes, Memory. • Danticat has become a strong advocate for issues affecting Haitians, both abroad and at home.
About Krik? Krak! • Danticat published Krik? Krak! in 1995. • It is a collection of short stories that centers around the lives of several Haitian women. • These stories take place in Port-au-Prince, the fictional Ville Rose, and Brooklyn, New York.
About Krik? Krak! Themes that can be found throughout the collection of short stories are: • How individuals cope with pain and suffering, and find strength to go on. • The importance of family and tradition. • The importance of hope. • Overcoming obstacles as a Haitian woman.
About Krik? Krak! • Many of the stories in Danticat’s book are told amidst the backdrop of the Duvalier Regime. • Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc) and his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, ruled over Haiti by means of oppressive military force from 1957-1986. • Though his presidency was only supposed to be for a six year term, Francois declared himself President for life.
About Krik? Krak! • In order to ensure that Francois’ rule was not successfully challenged, he organized an unsanctioned armed force, known as the Tontons Macoutes, which he used to coerce those who opposed him. • The Tontons Macoutes’ official name was the Volunteers for National Security; however, they committed such atrocities that the Haitian people referred to them as the “bogeymen.”
About Krik? Krak! • Throughout the Duvaliers’ father-son dictatorship, the Tontons Macoutes enforced their authority by torturing, beating, raping, and murdering all those who expressed political discontent. • Freedom of the press was taken away. • Over the course of the father-son dictatorship, the Tontons Macoutes are said to be responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people: men, women, and children.
About Krik? Krak! Why do we tell stories?
About Krik? Krak! What is an epistolary narrative? • An epistle is a letter. • An epistolary narrative is a story that is told through letters. • This genre typically has a double narrative structure: there is the personal story which connects the two characters writing to each other as well as a broader story that is often shared indirectly through their correspondence.