Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She immigrated to the United States when she was 12-years-old and has lived in this country ever since. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Brown University, and teaches creative writing at New York University and the University of Miami. She continues to consider herself Haitian and returns to her native land frequently.
Her latest collection of eight short stories, “Everything Inside,” describes a spectrum of experiences: A young woman is called to the deathbed of her biological father, a man who abandoned her mother and whom she has never met; the paid caregiver for a chronically ill patient is swindled of her meager savings by an ex-lover who has left the country; a woman in the early grip of dementia brings the celebration of her grandchild’s christening to the brink of disaster.
In these and the remaining stories Danticat creates believable characters who respond in believable ways to difficult, sometimes rending situations. There are few if any unexpected plot twists; the reader follows the characters as they find their ways through and around obstacles in their lives. Danticat’s stories draw portraits of resilient people surviving in a turbulent world.
Some of the stories in “Everything Inside” require no cultural seasoning to leave an impact upon the reader. Others bear a distinct Haitian savor, yet not in a way that those unfamiliar with Haitian culture will find distant or inaccessible.
Danticat sprinkles bits of Haitian language, customs, and traditions into her stories the same way an experienced cook uses spices to give a dish its distinctive regional character. Her stories have universal appeal, but with a distinctly Haitian flavor.
Readers unfamiliar with Danticat will find this short book an appealing introduction to her writing. Those who have enjoyed her previous novels and short stories will see her most recent publication as a welcome addition to her growing body of work.