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The Farming of Bones

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  5,932 Ratings  ·  529 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Soho Press (first published October 4th 1988)
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As much as there's solace to be derived from bestowing much needed attention on non-white-male authored narratives which speak of the ones snubbed callously by literature, on no grounds can poor story-telling be excused. As if page after page of oblique but trite commentary on ethnic conflict, colonialism, slavery and racism lathered on to the bare bones of a plot was not enough, Danticat makes the task of finding redeeming aspects even harder with her stilted, cardboard cutout characters whose ...more
Jan 28, 2014 Zanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: racism, black-history
"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 carried out of a genocide. It's fiction loaded down heavily with the kind of truth you wish you didn't have to believe - 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 na
Jan 17, 2016 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 stars. To give context to the story, I’m going to start this review with a brief history lesson: located in the Caribbean, the Hispaniola island is basically split in half, with the former French colony of Haiti on one side of the island and the former Spanish colony of the Dominican Republic on the other. During the 30’s, Rafael Trujillo came into power in the Dominican Republic, and, like so many other demagogues both before and after him, decided to demonize and scapegoat some of his count ...more
Layla Strohl
Sep 20, 2011 Layla Strohl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ana Ovejero
'Misery won't touch you gentle. It always leaves its thumbprints on you; sometimes it leaves for others to see, sometimes for nobody but you to know of.'

This story tells the masacre of Haitains in Dominican Republic in 1937. These two countries are divided by a river, a borderline easy to cross by thousands of peasants looking for work harvesting the sugarcanes. Here is where we find Amabelle, a young Haitian who works in the house of Señora Valencia since she was a child, becoming an orphan as
Jan 02, 2014 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, edwidge-danticat
I picked up this book at a vendor table while at the 2013 Harlem Book Fair . I had never heard of the author and the cover wasn’t particularly attractive but, after reading the back, I checked the price. I figured for $3, it was worth it. It was.

I enjoyed this book from the beginning, but about half way through “the slaughter” begins and the book really takes off. Killings are described in graphic detail, but the story is written in a way that it’s not too much.

All the characters find themselve
Jen Fordyce
Aug 22, 2007 Jen Fordyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one is keeping me awake at night. It is beautiful, even in anguish.


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.
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
Sep 15, 2008 Savvy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 12, 2011 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, historical, haiti
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.

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
Apr 26, 2015 Jean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. This one was a reread from my early Peace Corps days. At that point, I was acquainting myself with Dominican history, and was less preoccupied with Danticat's writing: a pity, since this is a beautifully rendered story.

What worked for me: the dreamy quality of the novel, particularly the dream sequences themselves. I loved the motif of seeking refuge and remembrance in dreams, complicated by the bitter truth that they often bring the horrors of wakefulness to life in a bizarre, enhanc
Jan 05, 2015 Ming rated it it was amazing
An awesome and inspiring book. Danticat demonstrates how language can move a person and can describe the most horrific circumstances YET keep the reader from turning away. I could not and will not turn away from her stories or her writing. In her TED piece, someone described her writing as "healing by wounding." Yes!

Her writing is absolutely gorgeous...I finished yesterday, picked up two new books and could not read neither much because the lingering impact of Farming will not fade.

The only reme
David Shin
Jun 06, 2010 David Shin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Joslyn Allen
Edwidge Danticat writes with sophistication beyond her years and wmediumith an ethereal beauty. It is unbelievable to me that someone can produce works of such maturity and grace as "Breath, Eyes, Memory" and "the farming of bones" before the age of 30.

In "the farming of bones" Danticat takes her readers to the other side of her native island of Hispaniola, laying bare the oppression and desperation of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic of the 1930s. Here she explores the trials of a
Sep 19, 2013 Lucinda rated it really liked it
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
Sonia Tejada
Dec 01, 2013 Sonia Tejada rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 10, 2012 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-class
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
Jul 20, 2016 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the Sudden People Were Dying Everywhere
The Farming of Bones
Rating: 3.5/5

Summary: 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 labore
Mar 11, 2012 Monique rated it really liked it
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
Jul 27, 2014 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 11, 2011 Aleeda rated it really liked it
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
May 29, 2011 Bea rated it really liked it
Books/stories set in the Dominican Republic and Hait are new to me. I do not know a lot about the history of the area either. So this book helped me to meet and interact with new thoughts and new places.

Amabelle is a house servant to Senora whose family rescued her when she was orphaned. It is through Amabelle's eyes and her experiences that the reader encounters the history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the hate, the enslavement, the lives lived.

Amabell sees to be accepting of her life
Sinai C.
Mar 19, 2013 Sinai C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has such a boatload of meaning and 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
Oct 27, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last quarter of this book entirely bumped it up to four stars for me. I felt sluggish and disconnected from the characters for a lot of the book and was planning to give it three. It wasn't until after Amabelle was on the road (I'll refrain from any further specificity) that she and the others were brought into sharp relief. This is a great example of a story that doesn't really start until after the "action" ends; what you'd traditionally think of as the climactic novel events move the stor ...more
Hafeez Lakhani
Nov 06, 2011 Hafeez Lakhani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, epics
"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
Feb 09, 2009 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 24, 2015 L.A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young Haitian woman is swept up in civil war. Annabelle Desir is a servant for a wealthy Dominican family. Her lover, Sebastian, cuts sugarcane for another landowner. However, when the Dominicans decide to "cleanse" their side of the island of Haitian influence, everything goes pear-shaped for the young couple. Casts light on a part of history with which I was, sadly, ignorant, and makes me want to read nonfic on the topic now, to learn more about what happened.
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.
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Around the Year i...: The Farming of Bones, by Edwidge Danticat 2 11 Feb 19, 2017 07:55AM  
  • The Uses of Haiti
  • Abeng
  • At the Full and Change of the Moon
  • All Souls' Rising
  • The Autobiography of My Mother
  • Crossing the Mangrove
  • Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Trilogy
  • Masters of the Dew (Caribbean Writers Series)
  • Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola
  • Brown Girl, Brownstones
  • Omeros
  • The Pagoda
  • The Sabi
  • Those Bones Are Not My Child
  • Unburnable
  • Travesty in Haiti: A True Account of Christian Missions, Orphanages, Fraud, Food Aid and Drug Trafficking
  • Silencing the Past
  • The True History of Paradise
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.” 49 likes
“I wish I could've done more for her, but some sorrows were simply too individual to share.” 9 likes
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