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Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  605 ratings  ·  103 reviews
A New York Times Notable Book
A Miami Herald Best Book of the Year


In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile.

Inspired by Albert Camus and adapted from her own lectures for Princeton University’s Toni Morrison Lecture Series, here Danticat tells stories of artists who create despite (or because of) the horr
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ebook, 189 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Vintage (first published July 22nd 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,717)
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Kristen
I am always a little leery when a favorite writer publishes a collection of essays relying heavily on previously published work. Oftentimes, I am deeply dissatisfied. The material doesn't hold together, and I find that the writer has done disappointingly little work to update the material or to excise repetitions among the essays. This was not the case as I read Edwidge Danticat's new book, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. Danticat's collection is surprisingly fresh (almost ever ...more
Geoffrey Philp
To choose writing as a vocation is to risk shame as well as personal and professional failure. First, your parents, quite legitimately, will worry about your ability to make a living and whether or not they will have to subsidize your lifestyle for the rest of their lives. They fear you will be bankrupt before you turn thirty and ruin your chances for financial health for the rest of your life—or at least until you turn thirty-seven. For American Express never forgets. Or forgives.


Your friends,
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Aaminah Shakur
As a fan of everything Danticat writes and a writer/artist myself, I have been anxious to get my hands on this book since its publication. I read it over the space of two days, mostly sitting on my couch immovable, but some while riding on the bus to & from work, tears streaming down my face. The book is comprised of several essays around the central theme of what both of her countries, Haiti & the U.S., mean to her, and the ways in which she feels at home and perpetually an immigrant in ...more
Danita
Inept is the word that immediately comes to mind when trying to "review" this book. Ms. Danticat's words, halting yet fluid, have borne upon me the beginnings of an understanding of a nation and its beleaguered people. I have no mechanism with which to comprehend the physical, political, emotional and spiritual devastation so many have endured, but my mind is now open, reset and forever changed by her deft and daring creation.

So many of the questions she asked herself (and others) are questions
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LaToya Hankins
I loved this book because of how she address her experiences as being a Haitian/writer/immigrant and how one identity often feeds another. Her commentary in "The Other Side of the Water" on going home to bury a cousin who she barely knew despite them both living in America and in "Walk Straight" about visiting a great aunt depicts a universal experience of how our family shapes our lives and how you never realize how little time you have with family until they are gone. "Our Guernica" puts a fa ...more
Sophfronia Scott
At first I wasn't sure if this book would speak to me since I'm not an immigrant artist as Danticat describes. But the more I read the more I realized she was not just speaking of writing from a place of danger and displacement. She's talking about the danger of going deep into one's own truth and creating fearlessly from that place. Since that is exactly what I seek to do as a writer I found this book inspiring and challenging. It encourages me to approach my work again and again with diligence ...more
Justine
I just started Danticat's new book, and I wanted to read aloud the first chapter through a loudspeaker in a van driving through the streets, like in the old-fashioned way politicians used to advertise their candidacies. I realize, though, that shouting it might not meet the spirit of her first chapter....but I think you get my point: everyone should read it. But, again, such a dictatorial mode would be antithetical to Danticat's message. And around and around I go....

The only problem with her bo
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Lisa Lee
Dec 17, 2014 Lisa Lee is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black, female-author
MY EVOLVING MANIFESTO.

Creating dangerously: "Albert Camus [...] suggests that it is creating as a revolt against silence, creating when both the creation and the reception, the writing and the reading, are dangerous undertakings, disobedience to a directive."
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Privilege vs. courage in creating dangerously: "Perhaps, just as Alice Walker writes of her own forebears in her essay 'In Search of Our Mother's Gardens,' my blood ancestors--unlike my literary ancestors--were so weather-beaten, terror
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Bookreaderljh
Danticat is one of my favorite authors. This book was a collection of essays revolving around the need for immigrant authors to be willing to write of their homeland to tell a story of that place even when doing so is dangerous or negative. Several of these essays tell of Haiti at various times of revolution. And often it's those who tell the stories or more likely the truth who put their lives in danger for doing what needs to be done. With journalists threatened in the middle east today that f ...more
Breena
This is an important book for writers especially to read. If you care anything about what you do as an artist -- how you represent, you will appreciate this collection of Danticat's essays. It is a smooth, engaging read.
Jessica
Fiercely intelligent and achingly beautiful.

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Once again, my local librarian has anticipated my reading urges before I am even aware of them...I applaud her book buying sensibility.
Leslie
I thought this would serve as a unique writing muse or motivator and I also thought it would stem from a perspective accounting of varied immigrant viewpoints of multiple nationalities. It proved to be neither. Well-written, often beautiful and composed with a crispness that transports you, this is almost solely autobiographical and thus almost exclusively focused on Haiti and her perspective. So it was a letdown for me due to too casual a review of the back cover description, though it appeals ...more
Tim Hoiland
In a collection of essays called Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, the French philosopher and journalist Albert Camus writes, “Art cannot be a monologue. We are on the high seas. The artist, like everyone else, must bend to his oar, without dying if possible.”

Art and death are two things that have shaped the life and writing of the acclaimed Haitian novelist Edwidge Danticat, whose book Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work borrows its title from Camus.

Though Danticat emigrated to the
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Jeanne
This book talked about the, sometimes conflicting, feelings Danticat had about being an immigrant artist. She writes, "One of the advantages of being an immigrant is that two very different countries are forced to merge within you. The language you were born speaking and the one that you will probably die speaking have no choice but to find a common place in your brain and regularly merge there. So too with catastrophes and disasters, which inevitably force you to rethink facile allegiances" (11 ...more
Purple Iris
Perfect.

Okay, that was my reaction when I just finished the book, but I figure in a few years, I might need a reminder as to why exactly I thought that.

Well, the book is beautifully written. And it is well put-together. You can tell that Danticat actually worked on it as opposed to just slapping together all the essays she had written over the past year.

This was the first collection of essays I was unable to put down. Usually that only happens when I read thrillers. This book was that compelll
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Linda
I've read all of Danticat's books, several more than once. This book is a collection of essays sponsored by the Toni Morrison Lecture Series at Princeton University.

Danticat now lives in the US. Her parents came to the US first, sending for Edwidge when she was about 12 years old. She was left with Uncle Joseph, a minister who somehow managed to provide her with an education, both in terms of attendance at school, and in terms of the values and feelings she has carried with her. She was reunite
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Kristen
Read in September, 2010

I am always a little leery when a favorite writer publishes a collection of essays relying heavily on previously published work. Oftentimes, I am deeply dissatisfied. The material doesn't hold together, and I find that the writer has done disappointingly little work to update the material or to excise repetitions among the essays. This was not the case as I read Edwidge Danticat's new book, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. Danticat's collection is surprisi
...more
Rashaan
Architecture is supposed to solve problems, and the 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio was bent on problem-solving. Harmony was the foundation to his structures. He insisted houses not be built around stagnant water. This design wasn't simply for aesthetic purposes but turned out to be incredibly practical and hygienic as well. Architecture is not only a source of spatial poetry but, in this sense, the discipline saves lives as well. Literature for better or worse, doesn't quite work ...more
sydney
In "Create Dangerously," Haitian-American Danticat departs from fiction to write about her experiences as an "immigrant artist." She calls on hundreds of years of Haitian history spanning from the Haitian Revolution to the January, 2010, earthquake and muses on the responsibilities of artists to their countries while weaving together quotes from books, oral histories, and her own memories. She discusses the particular pain of belonging to the Haitian "Dyaspora," a far-flung group of Haitians liv ...more
Ryan Mishap
"I have little regard for an art that deliberately aims to shock because it is unable to convince."--Camus

"I used to fear [my parents] reading my books, worried about disappointing them. My stories do not hold a candleto having lived under a dictatorship for most of your adult life, to having your neighbors disappear and not being able even to acknowledge it, to being forced to act as though these neighbors had never existed at all. Reading, and perhaps ultimately writing, is nothing like living
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Lisa
I come to this book with two confessions: I have read almost none of Danticat's fiction so far, in spite of her having been one of the most important voices out of the Caribbean for at least the last fifteen years, and I DID MY MASTER'S THESIS ON CARIBBEAN WOMEN'S POETRY, SO HOW COULD I HAVE POSSIBLY NOT READ ANY DANTICAT SO FAR??

(I'll use my daughter's birth as an excuse for not having the extra layer of time to cover works not directly related to my thesis. Ahem. OK, so that was five years ag
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Katherine
A wonderful book. It thoughtfully and beautifully describes one immigrant's experiences, weaving in literature, history and sociology along the way. I learned a lot about Haiti's history and about the Haitian immigrant or exile community. Create Dangerously is short and sweet, well worth taking (not very much of) your time to read! It's also a cool book to read alongside Mountains Beyond Mountains, as that is an outsider's perspective on Haiti and Danticat is a native Haitian.
Liz Murray
I tried to get this a few months ago through my local library but this being a suburb of Melbourne and not Brooklyn it wasn't available. I've since discovered the local bookshop and was so excited to be able to order this in. I got it yesterday and read it today in one sitting. It can't be said that it's easy reading and I had goosebumps more than once but the mix of politics, creative expression and reflection on what it is to be alive, and what it is to be dead, touches my heart in a way not m ...more
Justin Howe
Part memoir, part essay collection Danticat explores her role as immigrant artist in the USA. "One of the advantages of being an immigrant is that two very different countries are forced to merge within you. The language you were born speaking and the one you will probably die speaking have no choice but to find a common place in your brain and regularly merge there." Definitely worth tracking down.
Yanira
This is a great collection of stories/ essay. She does the combination really well. She's such a great writer. However, this is not a light read. It took me a while to finish it. The topic itself is heavy. She deals with the dictatorship and the earthquake. And the writing is also slow and dense. Overall, it's a good read.
Aurora Morales
I loved this linked collection of memoir/essays exploring the task of creating under dangerous conditions, and the challenges of memory, witnessing, and self-definition of the immigrant and/or exiled artist. Most of the people Danticat writes about are Haitian artists, writers and intellectuals, and I loved learning about the ones I was unfamiliar with As a Caribbean writer and immigrant myself, and a witness to political and economic conditions far less harsh than Haiti's but still heartbreakin ...more
Nick
Taught this in AP lit/comp with Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness. Excellent memoir with a focus on questioning the role of the artist and the notion of tragedy. The three books together really worked well to shape discussions and very insightful discourse in the class.
Stacie
Apr 09, 2011 Stacie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stacie by: NPR
Create Dangerously is personal, philosophical and vivid. Edwidge Danticat explores the role of the immigrant writer through touching stories of her Haitian family and friends. As with any collection, some of the essays are more captivating than others. I was particularly drawn to her accounts about journalist and icon Jean Dominique, 9/11, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and her powerful essay about visiting Haiti weeks after the earthquake hit in 2010. Her tales give the reader a sense of her respo ...more
Timothy Browning
A fine collection of essays focusing on a part of the world, Haiti, that I know pathetically little about. I love that the author brings you along with a lot of self examination as she feels that, as an immigrant who has spent a large portion of her life in the US, that she doesn't really know Haiti either. I liked all the different focuses of these essays but how they are all pulled together by a sense of Haitian spirit that imbues her work and is often its focus, even if her distance from her ...more
Amanda
I wasn't familiar with Danticat's work prior to reading this series of essays but now I'm super stoked to dig into her fiction. This is a really wonderful collection of stories, most about Haiti or Danticat's Haitian relatives, told with a lot of compassion.
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Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; and The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner. She is also the editor of The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States and The Beac ...more
More about Edwidge Danticat...
Breath, Eyes, Memory Krik? Krak! The Farming of Bones Claire of the Sea Light The Dew Breaker

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“One of the advantage of being an immigrant is that two very different countries are forced to merge within you. The language you were born speaking and the one you will probably die speaking have no choice but to find a common place in your brain and regularly merge there.” 2 likes
“Posing is death. I think when you make people pose for a photograph, you kill them.” 2 likes
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