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The Farming of Bones

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  4,428 ratings  ·  411 reviews
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. Ho ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published October 4th 1988)
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Zanna
"I know what will happen," he said. "You tell the story, and then it's retold as they wish, written in words you do not understand, in a language that is theirs, and not yours."

This is a story out of a genocide. It's fiction loaded heavily with truth - maybe that's why the lyrical sentences are so full of images of sinking, falling and opening, of spaces and flesh pressed, distorted, cut.

There is nuance here. Our Haitian Black woman narrator is impromptu midwife to the White Dominican woman she
...more
Jen Fordyce
This one is keeping me awake at night. It is beautiful, even in anguish.

(later)

Ok, I finished. While I was waiting to get on an airplane at 9 a.m. I was waiting in line and reading and crying and handing the airline man my boarding pass and crying and finding a seat between these two nice ladies and crying. It was so sad...but also lovely.
Ensiform
In 1937, Amabelle, an orphaned Haitian woman working in the Dominican Republic, dreams of returning to Haiti with her lover Sebastien, a sugarcane cutter (the scar-inflicting “bones” of the title). Instead, they are both caught up in the racist anti-immigrant furor stirred up Trujillo, and the killing, which will be latter be known as the Parsley Massacre, or El Corte, begins. Amabelle flees, separated from Sebastien, and tries to forge a new life that is nothing like the one she dreamed of.

This
...more
Layla Strohl
I bought this book from a guy on the street for a $1. It had no cover and no description except for a handwritten inscription which read, "Ben, know I am your Amabelle and you my Sebastian. Here's to holding on tight in the middle of the night. I love you, Sarah".

Being a complete sucker for open declarations of love, I bought the book.

Farming for Bones is absolutely not at all the sappy love story I thought it would be. It is a beautifully written story that follows a group of Haitians through
...more
Dusty Myers
A diasporic novel in line with Coetzee's The Life and Times of Michael K and McCarthy's The Road. Which is to say, it follows people trying to escape turmoil, in this case Amabelle and other Haitian workers as they try to escape the Dominican Republic during the "Parsley massacre" of 1937—called such due to the shibboleth used by the Dominican soldiers to determine a person's heritage. (They'd hold up a sprig of parsley and ask, "What is this?" and if you answered in the Haitian Creole, you died ...more
Savvy
Sad, but stunningly beautiful, FARMING OF THE BONES is a powerfully written evocative account of the horror of the genocide committed in 1937 against poor Haitian cane workers and others by the Dominican General Rafael Trujillo.

Through the voice of a young orphaned Haitian woman, Amabelle Desir, we follow the lives of desperate Haitian exiles working the Dominican cane fields in deplorable conditions with paltry wages and sparse living conditions.

Danticat is a master storyteller and her prose
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Two-point-five stars
This book really wants to be "literary" fiction, but it lacks the necessary warmth and depth. The characters are flat and underdeveloped, such that it's hard to feel sorrow for their suffering. The only way I could work up any kind of caring was to remind myself that these characters had real-life counterparts who did in fact suffer the atrocities inflicted by Trujillo.
The author seems to assume a lot of prior knowledge on the part of the reader about the events portrayed. T
...more
Diane Brown
Danticat's Farming of Bones follows the life of Annabelle, a Haitian orphan who is taken in by a Dominican family. It is set against the harrowing backdrop of the massacre of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic in 1937.
A great read that affirms, for me, the need for writers.
Writers who invoke through stories the memory and lives of those who otherwise may never have a voice. Those who fall by the wayside and whose names are not on any lists.
Through Annabelle's voice, Danticat tried t
...more
Sarah *Saranghae yo*
“His name is Sebastien Onius.
“He comes most nights to put an end to my nightmare, the one I have all the time, of my parents drowning.”
Thus begins the tale of Amabelle Dessire, a servant of a wealthy Dominican family. Set in 1937, The Dominican Rebublic is growing restless with the increased population of Haitian migrant Cane workers. Amabelle's lover Sebastien, a Cane worker himself, is plagued by the memories of the Hurricane of 1930. Amabelle, too, is plagued by the hurricane which swept a
...more
Shannon
This is a compelling and sad story. It caused me to do some additional research on genocide and I actually found out that the main event in the book was based on actual events. After finishing the book, I immediately searched to find out what else Danticat has written. When I finished the second book, that's when I knew I loved this author :-)

If interested, I posted a more comprehensive review of the book over on the blog.
Lucinda
This is a book about suffering, surviving. Living through events so much bigger than us that they swallow us whole. Coming out the other side, there is nothing left that is recognizable and no symbol, marker, or sign powerful enough to represent what has been lost. Where are the traces of loss, can something or someone who was really such a big part of our lives just disappear so entirely? No two ways about it, this is a raw harrowing tale of survival.

I didn't know much about the relations betwe
...more
Monique
I read The Farming of Bones in one day. The story was compelling, the characters engaging, and the writing was prefect. Danticat had me hooked all the way through. An added plus was that it is historical fiction, my favorite genre.

The Farming of Bones takes place during Rafael Trujillo reign of power in the Dominican Republic. Personally, I know very little about the Dominican Republic and it history. Most of what I know about this period I learned form The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Ju
...more
Aleeda
Historical fiction is probably my favorite genre of book. Setting fictional (and some non-fictional) characters in story with a backdrop of chronoligcal events takes quite a bit of imagination. As much as I think I know about a subject, these intimate peeks into these historical events add even more to my knowledge. Edwidge Danticat draws on not only her life, but stories relayed to her by family members, weaving stories of Haitian life into her fiction. The story of the 1937 Massacre ( has Ms.D ...more
David Shin
The Farming of Bones. By Edwidge Danticat. 310 pp. New York: Penguin Books. $14.


Hope On the Edge of Death

Death, struggles, love, birth, misery, happiness—one word cannot capture the flurry of emotions and issues that Edwidge Danticat brings forth in one novel. Danticat’s, The Farming of Bones is both compelling and surprisingly a fast read at the same time.

The book is mainly about the struggles of a young woman during the 1937 massacre. A Haitian woman living in the Republic, the protagonist Ama
...more
Sinai C.
This book has such a boatload of meaning and just...it was so painful to read because of how into the story I was. This is just, not a happy book. But it was beautiful--I was a bit lost on the history, but I pieced things together. As a Spanish speaker, I found the mixture of Kreyol (I think that's the language) and Spanish was very effective and gave the book a more realistic way of reading. I liked that the characters were multi-sided, as people are in real life. Amabelle is not my favorite he ...more
Hafeez Lakhani
"He opens his mouth a few more times and moans.
'If you let yourself,' he says finally, 'you can see it before your eyes, a boy carrying his dead father from the road, wobbling, swaying, stumbling under the weight. The boy with the wind in his ears and pieces of the tin roofs that opened the father's throat blowing around him. The boy trying not to drop the father, not crying or screaming like you'd think, but praying that more of the fathers blood will stay in the father's throat and not go int
...more
Anna
Told through the eyes of Amabelle, a Haitian, who works for Senor Pico and his wife Dona Valencia on their estate in the Dominican Republic, The Farming of Bones is a story of the Haitian cane workers and the wealthy Dominican families that rule over them. Amabelle's parents died in a flood and as a child, she was left sitting by the river that took away her family. Taken in and raised by Valencia's father, Papi, Amabelle is part of their household, personal servant to Valencia who is the same a ...more
Katie
I wanted to like this book and ended up enjoying it a bit, but it was slow going. The dialog is stilted and distractingly old-fashioned-sounding ("It is good for you to learn and trust that I am near you even when you can't place to balls of your eyes on me," for example), but many of the more descriptive passages were intriguing ("His hidelike skin instantly paled t the color of warm eggshells," for example). More important, I was never convinced that Amabelle, the main character, was ever trul ...more
Rachel
I liked this book because of what it taught me about Haitian/Dominican Republic history, but I didn't really enjoy reading the book. I just couldn't get into the writing style and found myself researching the events in the story just so I could understand the plot. Perhaps the author was trying to confuse the reader as a way to convey the confusion and disorientation the character must have felt.
Jen
I had no idea there'd been a Haitian genocide, so this book was good for me as a history lesson. I like how Dandicat gives us glimpses into both cultures before the Massacre. As for the Massacre, she gives enough detail so we get the gruesome picture, but does not hammer the reader with graphic descriptions, as some books do. She tells her story simply but effectively.
Sara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Monika
Jun 04, 2008 Monika rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone,
Recommended to Monika by: sarah:)
this book was amazing! i'm planning on reading all the books that this author is reading. She is a terrific writer. though the story line was sad at some times, the book was great!
Christa
Enjoyed her first book more...wasn't able to connect with the main characters as much as I wanted to.
Tairan Qiu
This is a story about an orphaned Haitian woman named Amabelle working in the Dominican Republic. She dreams of returning to Haiti with her lover Sebastien, a sugarcane cutter. Instead, they are both caught up in the racist anti-immigrant chaos by Trujillo, the governor of the Dominican Republic. Soon after the riots, the killing, which will be latter be known as the Parsley Massacre begins. Trujillo has a strong prejudice towards skin color and he wants to keep the blood in his country “pure”. ...more
Sarah Sammis
Mar 14, 2012 Sarah Sammis rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sarah by: Elise Blackwell
Ex wishlist

Well written... depressing subject.
Emily
I had to read this book for my AP English class. I think that, had I read it on my own, I would have enjoyed it a lot more than I did. I wasn't particularly fond of any of the characters in this book, and the plot felt lacking in some points. However, I did find several quotes throughout the book that really resonated with me. The Farming of Bones us most definitely not a light book, as it is filled with strong themes of racism and death. It's not easy to digest, and difficult to find analysis s ...more
David
I read this book years ago, for English class. Why my teacher thought this book merited discussion was a mystery to me -- it's the sort of book filled with clunky metaphors that don't work, symbolism that springs from the sort of soul-draining workshopping that cleanses works of their own identities rather than, you know, out of any real world truth.

To Danticat's credit, however, the characters are pretty compelling and she somehow manages to create a very, very vivid sense of a little known his
...more
Wendy
I might be a bit biased, because I already loved Danticat's Brother, I'm dying, but her writing style always gets to me. She pulls me in and doesn't let go until she is done telling her story.

The Farming of Bones was of special interest to me since I have done a presentation on 'In the Time of the Butterflies' by Julia Alvarez and the Haitian massacre is mentioned in there. Reading this account of Annabelle is another piece of the puzzle, a horrible, sad, but compelling puzzle piece.

5/5 stars
Marcie
3 or 4? This book affected me though I did not like it so much. Other reviews talk about a theme being hope. It is sad that hope (say for the dead Sebastien to actually be alive and come back) can lead to nothing but waiting for what is hoped for, despite the knowledge that it will not happen, as Amabelle wasted most of her life after Sebastien's death. The book illustrates how devastating tragedy/genocide effects can be.
I knew virtually nothing about Hispaniola's history in general and the Par
...more
Sonia Tejada
Cosecha de huesos es uno de los libros más difíciles de leer que he leído. La voz narrativa es a veces una camara cuya reproducción nos estremece. El lector siente lo contado como flechas cuyo blanco es el corazón. Danticat escribe con una prosa punzante, desnuda, poética a ratos. Usa una adjetivación potente, eficaz, y precisa para realzar la narración. La novela se lee rápido, sin embargo, a la mitad se hace un poco lenta, todo toma vuelo de nuevo a partir del inicio de la matanza.

La novela co
...more
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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...
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“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.” 37 likes
“Que diga amor? Love? Hate? Speak to me of things the world has yet to truly understand, of the instant meaning of each bird's call, of a child's secret thoughts in her mother's womb, of the measured rhythmical time of every man and woman's breath, of the true colors of the inside of the moon, of the larger miracles in small things, the deeper mysteries.” 6 likes
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