Monday, January 18, 2010

Reader's Diary #567- Edwidge Danticat: Ghosts

With all the news out of Haiti lately, I thought I'd try to find a Haitian author to read. Until now I could name but one Haitian writer, Canada's slam poet Oni, the Haitian Sensation. Not that Haiti is a particularly large country, so I don't feel too embarrassed. There's plenty of bigger and more populous countries in which I couldn't name a single author. But, it's still sad that it takes an earthquake to make the world (self-included) to pay attention again. It's certainly not the only tragedy they've experienced.

Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian born author living in the US, speaks of those other tragedies in her short story "Ghosts". "Ghosts" is the story of Pascal Dorien, a young man living in Bel Air-- not quite a full-on slum, but certainly not Fresh Prince's home. This is Haiti. Gangs and corruption are the order of the day. Pascal, living with his parents, good people who run a local restaurant, dreams of starting a new radio show that would explore Bel Air's ganglife, create a dialogue, and lead to social activism.

However, Pascal's plans get sidetracked, no fault of his own. Danticat's "ghosts" represent wasted potential and sometimes the helplessness here is stifling. I gather this is realistic and serves as a great reminder that there's more than one mess that needs cleaning up in Haiti.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I haven't read the entire story yet, but think she does a good job of drawing the characters and humanizing them. Shall be back to finish.

Margot said...

I've "discovered" short stories and have decided to join you from time to time. My first short is up today.

You can find my post at Joyfully Retired

JoAnn said...

Excellent idea to highlight a Haitian author this week! I've got a couple of Danticat's books on my wishllist, but thanks to your link I'll start with this short story.

My story also came from The New Yorker. It's Jonathan Franzen's "Good Neighbors".

John Mutford said...

Barbara: Can't wait to hear what you think.

Margot: So wonderful to have you join us.

JoAnn: I have to give credit where credit is due, and that's to the New Yorker for consistently offering up so many short stories online.

Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for the link to this short John. I am also guilty. I have printed out the story to read.

Here's mine: