Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat
"In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis. Inspired by Albert Camus lecture Create Dangerously, and combining memoir and essay, Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself who create despite or because of, the horrors that drove them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them."
The above is from the inside flap and truly captures what this book is about. Danticat opens with the 1964 public execution in Haiti, under dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier of two artist, Marcel Numa, Louis Drouin. The author quickly establishes that some artist risk their lives to create and speak in a hostile environment. This work addresses the role immigrant artist must play for their birth countries that suffer from censorship and unjust rule. We learn about many Haitian artist. Some who gave hope and inspiration, others who were exiled or murdered. Danticat tells us about Jean Dominque, a journalist who spent his life speaking out against the government and was assassinated. Sharing stories and memories, Danticat makes Dominque real.
"During the dictatorship in the early 1960's, a young Jean had created a cinema club, hosting weekly screenings at the Alliance Francaise in Port-au-Prince. There he showed films such as Federico Fellini's La Strada, which is, among other things, about a girl's near enslavement as a circus performer. "If you see a good film correctly" Jean said, "the grammar of that film is a political act. Everytime you see Fellini's La Strada, even if there is no question of fascism, of politcal persecution, you feel something against the black part of life." Another favorite of his was the Alian Resnais documentary Night and Fog, which describes the horrors of concentration camps. "To us, Auschwitz was Fort Dimanche," he said, referring to the Duvalier-era dungeonlike prison where thousands of Haitians were tortured and killed."
Danticat's writing is inviting, beautiful and honest. At times I felt the author shared more then she probably thought she would. Create Dangerously is a very powerful read. Read an excerpt