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The Farming of Bones
EDWIDGE DANTICAT

The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat
64 reviews (1998) (320p)
ALA Notable Books - Fiction Finalist

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Book Description
From the bestselling author of Breath, Eyes, Memory, a passionate and profound novel of two lovers struggling against political violence

The Farming of Bones begins in 1937 in a village on the Dominican side of the river that separates the country from Haiti. Amabelle Desir, Haitian-born and a faithful maidservant to the Dominican family that took her in when she was orphaned, and her lover Sebastien, an itinerant sugarcane cutter, decide they will marry and return to Haiti at the end of the cane season. However, hostilities toward Haitian laborers find a vitriolic spokesman in the ultra-nationalist Generalissimo Trujillo who calls for an ethnic cleansing of his Spanish-speaking country. As rumors of Haitian persecution become fact, as anxiety turns to terror, Amabelle and Sebastien's dreams are leveled to the most basic human desire: to endure. Based on a little-known historical event, this extraordinarily moving novel memorializes the forgotten victims of nationalist madness and the deeply felt passion and grief of its survivors.

* New York Times Notable Book
* Named one of the Best Books of the Year by People, Entertainment Weekly, Chicago Tribune, Time Out New York, Publishers Weekly, and the American Library Association
* The author was nominated for a National Book Award and named one of the "20 Best Young Novelists" by Granta

"A remarkable new novel . . . Danticat writes in wonderful, evocative prose, and she is especially adept at treading the path between oppression and grace. At times, it's a particularly painful path, but, always, a compelling one." --The Boston Sunday Globe

"[With] hallucinatory vigor and a sense of mission . . . Danticat capably evokes the shock with which a small personal world is disrupted by military mayhem . . . The Farming of Bones offers ample confirmation of Edwidge Danticat's considerable talents." --The New York Times Book Review

"It's a testament to her talent that the novel, while almost unbearably sad, is still a joy to read." --Newsweek

Penguin Readers Guide Available


Amazon.com Review
In a 1930s Dominican Republic village, the scream of a woman in labor rings out like the shot heard around Hispaniola. Every detail of the birth scene--the balance of power between the middle-aged Señora and her Haitian maid, the babies' skin color, not to mention which child is to survive--reverberates throughout Edwidge Danticat's Farming of Bones. In fact, rather than a celebration of fecundity, the unexpected double delivery gels into a metaphor for the military-sponsored mass murder of Haitian emigrants. As the Señora's doctor explains: "Many of us start out as twins in the belly and do away with the other."

But Danticat's powerful second novel is far from a currently modish victimization saga, and can hold its own with such modern classics as One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Color Purple. Its watchful narrator, the Señora's shy Haitian housemaid, describes herself as "one of those sea stones that sucks its colors inside and loses its translucence once it's taken out into the sun." An astute observer of human character, Amabelle Désir is also a conduit for the author's tart, poetic prose. Her lover, Sebastian, has "arms as wide as one of my bare thighs," while the Señora's complicit officer husband is "still shorter than the average man, even in his military boots."

The orphaned Amabelle comes to assume almost messianic proportions, but she is entirely fictional, as is the town of Alegría where the tale begins. The genocide and exodus, however, are factual. Indeed, the atrocities committed by Dominican president Rafael Trujillo's army back in 1937 rival those of Duvalier's Touton Macoutes. History has rendered Trujillo's carnage much less visible than Duvalier's, but no less painful. As Amabelle's father once told her, "Misery won't touch you gentle. It always leaves its thumbprints on you; sometimes it leaves them for others to see, sometimes for nobody but you to know of." Thanks to Danticat's stellar novel, the world will now know. --Jean Lenihan


Other Award Winning Books by Edwidge Danticat
Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
223 reviews (2013) (256p) (PW Fiction) (NYT100) (LJ Top10) (MK Top) (ALA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat
77 reviews (2007) (624p) (NBA Non) (NBCCA AutoBio)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
57 reviews (2004) (256p) (NBCCA) (PF)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Krik?Krak! by Edwidge Danticat
75 reviews (1995) (240p) (NBA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

Edwidge Danticat Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 7  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 5  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 1 The Dew Breaker ·  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 2 Krik?Krak! · Brother, I’m Dying ·  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 1 The Dew Breaker ·  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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