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Reading Recommendations from Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat joined us on May 12th for the fifth and final event in our 2021-22 Portland Arts & Lectures series. In the audience Q&A portion of her event, Danticat shared some of her favorite books. Her recommendations are below.

What Storm, What Thunder
by Myriam J.A. Chancy

From Tin House: At the end of a long, sweltering day, as markets and businesses begin to close for the evening, an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude shakes the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Award-winning author Myriam J. A. Chancy masterfully charts the inner lives of the characters affected by the disaster, artfully weaving together these lives, witness is given to the desolation wreaked by nature and by man.

“Stunning.” — Margaret Atwood
“A gorgeous, intimate voice. . . . A reminder of the extraordinary resilience, then as now, of the Haitian people.” — People Magazine

Listen to Myriam discuss What Storm, What Thunder with Omar El Akkad and Andrew Proctor at the 2021 Portland Book Festival on The Archive Project.

Order your copy of What Storm, What Thunder from an indie bookstore:
Powell’s Books | Broadway Books | Annie Bloom’s Books | Bookshop

Song of Solomon
by Toni Morrison

From PRH: Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. As Morrison follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, she introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized Black world.

“For now he knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” – Song of Solomon

Order your copy of Song of Solomon from an indie bookstore:
Powell’s Books | Broadway Books | Annie Bloom’s Books | Third Eye Books

South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation
by Imani Perry

From HarperCollins: An essential, surprising journey through the history, rituals, and landscapes of the American South—and a revelatory argument for why you must understand the South in order to understand America.

We all think we know the American South. Even those who have never lived there can rattle off a list of signifiers: the Civil War, Gone with the Wind, the Ku Klux Klan, plantations, football, Jim Crow, slavery. But the idiosyncrasies, dispositions, and habits of the region are stranger and more complex than much of the country tends to acknowledge. In South to America, Imani Perry shows that the meaning of American is inextricably linked with the South, and that our understanding of its history and culture is the key to understanding the nation as a whole.

“An elegant meditation on the complexities of the American South—and thus of America—by an esteemed daughter of the South and one of the great intellectuals of our time. An inspiration.” — Isabel Wilkerson

Order your copy of South to America from an indie bookstore:
Powell’s Books | Broadway Books | Annie Bloom’s Books | Third Eye Books

Danticat also recommended Haiti Response Fund as an organization people could support to help with relief efforts in her native Haiti. You can read about their essential work here.

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