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Portland, Oregon

Edwidge Danticat, 2022

Edwidge Danticat shares an intimate picture of her family, Haitian culture, & her career as a writer during this Portland Arts & Lectures event.

In this episode of The Archive Project, we feature a talk from Edwidge Danticat from Portland Arts & Lectures on May 12, 2022.

Danticat became nationally recognized with her debut novel published in 1994 Breath, Eyes, Memory which was an Oprah Book Club selection and national bestseller. Since then, she has gone on to publish more than a dozen books in multiple genres—novels, short fiction, memoir, literary criticism, young adult, and children’s books—many which were bestsellers including the Farming of Bones, The Dew Breaker, and Claire of the Sea of Light.

In her talk, Danticat gives an intimate picture of her life, from her childhood in Haiti to her immigration as a young adult to Brooklyn. The talk is structured around her mother’s diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It explores Danticat’s life growing up in an extended family in two countries and the beauty and struggles this life brought her. She offers us a portrait of Haitian culture that reveals it beauty, joy and strength rather than centering the tragedies that nation has suffered as is so often the case. In all, this an inspirational talk about intergenerational and international families, migration, and holding multiple cultures within oneself. It gives a deeper understanding of Danticat as a writer, and sheds important light on a culture often misunderstood here in the United States.

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Edwidge Danticat is the author of numerous books, including The Art of Death, a National Book Critics Circle finalist; Claire of the Sea Light, a New York Times Notable Book; Brother, I’m Dying, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and National Book Award finalist; The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah’s Book Club selection; and Krik? Krak!, also a National Book Award finalist. A 2018 Neustadt International Prize for Literature winner and the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” grant, she has been published in The New YorkerThe New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, and elsewhere.

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