The Dew Breaker

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Dec 18, 2007 - Fiction - 256 pages
4 Reviews
We meet him late in life: a quiet man, a good father and husband, a fixture in his Brooklyn neighborhood, a landlord and barber with a terrifying scar across his face. As the book unfolds, moving seamlessly between Haiti in the 1960s and New York City today, we enter the lives of those around him, and learn that he has also kept a vital, dangerous secret. Edwidge Danticat’s brilliant exploration of the “dew breaker”--or torturer--s an unforgettable story of love, remorse, and hope; of personal and political rebellions; and of the compromises we make to move beyond the most intimate brushes with history. It firmly establishes her as one of America’s most essential writers.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Edwidge Danticat's Claire of the Sea Light.

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The dew breaker

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For her latest novel, the Haitian-born Danticat draws on her early childhood during the Duvaliers' dictatorships. Dew breaker was a name given to members of the tonton macouts, who tortured and ... Read full review

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The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat is an extremely descriptive and vivid fiction novel of a Haitian American barber and a family man who was a “dew breaker” or torturer during the dictatorships in the 1960s. She mad it very easy to connect to each character in a real life way, because all of them went through things we see in our lives everyday. Her very detailed descriptions make us feel like we are going through the experience right there with every single character. This book was first published in 2004 and today sells for $22 and has the ISBN of 1400041147.
The story starts out in Lakeland, Florida. Each chapter is a different short story about Haitian American families that tie the whole book together. It is about the things they overcame with immigration and their different cultures. Instead of focusing on the women, she focuses on the men during this time. There are many characters in this book including, a former regime member and murderer who, because of his past crimes, is fearful of being recognized; his potentially insane and epileptic wife, Anne and his atheistic daughter, Ka who is sarcastic and cynical due to a life with isolated parents. There were also some of the murderer's victims: a young man he turns into an orphan who, lives in a rented room in his basement; a bridal seamstress who lives just down the street who he once tortured and continues to torment by literally tracking her every move; and a preacher he murders, who has a half-sister who happens to be Anne. The ending of the first chapter sets the mood for the entire story which has to do with deception and lies.
Danticat really wants the readers to see how stressful and rough the times were for the Haitian families. She also wanted readers to see the deception that people came with, very character is deceitful at some point in The Dew Breaker. Each storyline is a representation of Haitian-American communities that existed. Danticat's non-chronological and disorganization technique is her way of demonstrating the complexity and edginess that is associated with Haiti and its people. The author wants the readers to feel like they could connect to how difficult the things that the Haitian people went through. Danticat wants the readers to not only feel the difficult lifestyles of the people and how they dealt with it everyday,but also the forgiveness they had to face, despite the deception and confusion that was spread throughout the family. Hopefully, after reading this novel you will appreciate other cultures and the fact that they go through adversity just like we do.
The most intriguing concept in The Dew Breaker is her symbolism she uses and how she points the story to a universal “human” experience. Each scene is vivid and very descriptive. The main one is where Anne’s brother drowns, which also shows the water being a symbolic meaning. Water is meant to be a very peaceful and tranquil thing. Danticat turns it into being a tormented and cynical thing, killing her brother by drowning him. The author makes a universal “human” experience by showing the killing and freedom aspects of the Haitian-American lives. Ka’s father’s job was to torture and kill people, and Anne’s brother dies. It shows freedom in the way of them being free from the immigration and racial people that despised them. Her symbolic meaning is ironic and her real life experiences really brings out the true meaning of the story.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was confusing and inspiring at the same time. It was filled with intriguing and lifelike characters, even the characters that were just in the story for a very short time left a lasting impression on the readers. Her was to make each individual authentic made me want to read any other book she has written. She is a really interpretive,articulate, and socially conscious writer.TI would recommend this novel by Edwidge Danticat to anyone who likes to read about the different cultures and the adversity that the Haitain-American families overcame

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About the author (2007)

Edwidge Danticat is the author of numerous books, including Claire of the Sea Light,New York Times notable book; After the DanceBrother, I'm Dying, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and National Book Award finalist; Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she has been published in The New YorkerThe New York Times, and elsewhere. She lives in Miami.

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