Brother, I'm Dying
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Brother, I'm Dying

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  2,931 ratings  ·  512 reviews
From the best-selling author of The Dew Breaker, a major work of nonfiction: a powerfully moving family story that centers around the men closest to her heart—her father, Mira, and his older brother, Joseph.

From the age of four, Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph, a charismatic pastor, as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parent...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2007)
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Aubrey
Before this book, I thought of Haiti in snippets of earthquake, political unrest, the first successful slave revolution and whatever postcolonial joyrides the country had been taken for thereafter by many an intrusive neighbor. Danticat, née Dantica, does not yet know of the earthquake in the writing of these pages, and indeed has no concern for whatever panoramic blips I've picked up about this country. Her country, for however long a time she has spent outside it, Haiti is where she was born,...more
Kirby
Danticat hands you her story and walks away. Her writing style is stark here (my first time reading her); the facts are heavy, but she doesn't tug the reader one way or another or mandate sentiment. She relays her tale and then she is done. Damn. Very effective.

I thought most about "absence" on a few levels after finishing it. The literal absence of her parents and extended family at different periods of her life due to political strife and economic necessity. The unjustified absence of faith by...more
Judy
Sep 14, 2012 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Around the world readers
What a nice memoir of Danticat's uncle and father as well as recollection of her pregnancy and birth of her first child. Not in the mood for a depressing read,I was hesitant to listen to this book. It wasn't depressing. What it was was an excellent recounting of what it was like to live in Haiti during UN occupations and unstable governments, as well as a look at living in New York City or Miami when you are Haitian.

Danticat has an easy style. I found it refreshing after reading and listening t...more
Lizzie
This book is so wonderful. I loved this!

This is a family memoir, and links several story pieces together more cohesively than almost any novel I've read in ages. It's beautifully done. Partly it is about the author's growing up in Haiti at her uncle's house, before moving to the U.S. at twelve to be with her parents (c. 1980). And partly it is a chronicle of the year that her father and uncle died, and in which she gave birth to her first child (c. 2004). Each of these pieces is a worthwhile sto...more
Clif Hostetler
The author grabbed my attention with the first sentence:
"I found out I was pregnant the same day that my father’s rapid weight loss and chronic shortness of breath were positively diagnosed as end-stage pulmonary fibrosis."
This sentence let me know that the book was going to be about life, death and family relationships. It's also about the immigrant experience, Haitian political violence and cruel actions of ICE*.
*Immigration and Customs Enforcement

I was emotionally drawn into the story, and s...more
Michelle
I need to stop telling people "This is a book about a lady that grew up in Haiti with her uncle. Her uncle died, around the same time her father died, and she had a baby in between those times." (I'm not spoiling this for anybody; it says all of that stuff in the jacket of the book." I mean, that just sounds depressing, and overall, the book is not.

First of all, the book is really well written. Very simple language, but powerful. Characters, situations, feelings come across.

This was a book for...more
Lauren
Wow. If I thought I couldn't possibly lose even more respect for this president, his administration, his Homeland Security, and his policies, I was wrong.

This book is yet another reason why we should be very angry and should really work for change in whatever way we can.

This is a very intimate book. By the end, you feel as though you should be coming over with food for the family. I had always known bits and pieces about Haitian history from my years studying the French language, but now I real...more
Courtney Payne
This book is devastatingly good. Especially once you get to the second half of the book. I caught myself holding my breath as I read. I just could not believe what I was reading. Danticat tells the story of her family so beautifully. The descriptions of her two sets of parents (her aunt and uncle raised her for some time in Haiti, when her parents came to America to get settled. She eventually moved to America, but many of her formative years were with her aunt and uncle.) This story mostly focu...more
Chris
After reading Kidder’s Mountain Beyond Mountain about Dr. Farmer, Brother I’m Dying was an eloquent and welcomed portrait of the life of one Haitian family. This book adds a third dimension to the sketch of Haiti we get from Farmer through Kidder. Danticat is no less than graceful in painting the full picture of living, loving and dying in her family all against the backdrop of a constantly flailing Haiti. This is a great book for college classrooms, book clubs, or well – anyone who loves their...more
Doreen
Sep 14, 2014 Doreen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Diane, Jan F., Kate, Marisa, Laura, Nick, Matt, Susan
Recommended to Doreen by: ...recently discovered Edwidge Danticat!
This is the fourth book I've read by Danticat and yes, I've fallen in love with her writing. Her words are descriptive, tender, and compelling; truly sincere writing that tugs at the heartstrings.

In this story, Danticat reveals her early life in Haiti, living with her Uncle Joseph and his wife while her parents live in America, working to eventually afford to bring her to live with them. In a sense, she has two fathers; two good, honest men who love her and cherish her. So it stands to reason...more
Julia
Whenever an author of color publishes a book - especially when the author is from a country that has experienced war or poverty, etc - everyone wants to talk about her or his report of hardship and struggle (this is partly an issue of access - publishers don't want to publish "everyday life" books when they can publish a nonfiction book about some human rights atrocity across the border that US readers will happily eat up). The parts of Brother, I'm Dying that I most enjoyed were the loving, ane...more
Judy
Almost ten years ago I read Edwidge Danticat's beautiful, lyrical novel "The Farming of Bones." That book and her other works focus on the turbulent Haitian experience, especially for women. This memoir, which won this year's National Book Critics Circle Award, tells the story of her childhood in Haiti and immigration to New York at age twelve, but instead of being centered around the female experience, it is really the story of the relationship of her father, who immigrated to NYC with Edwidge'...more
Leslie Larson
Brilliant, sad, and profoundly revealing of the depth of feeling within a family and the force that politics and economics bear on the course of that family's life. The thoughtfulness, grace, and warm yet elegant writing that inform Danticat's fiction are in full play here. You won't forget the two main characters—Danticat's father and uncle—or the tumultuous upheaval that roils Haiti during the period she depicts. More proof that Danticat's one of the brightest literary voices today.

, the polit...more
Mary
What is a memoir supposed to accomplish? I only ask because I'm not sure what the goal of this one was. I imagine this would be interesting to people who were already devoted to Danticat as a person or an author. But I haven't read any of her other stuff. While there are a few notable things in her story (immigrant parents and a childhood in Haiti separated from them for many years, for example), I don't feel like she revealed much. Her thoughts about and reactions to what happens to her seem en...more
Lisa
A deeply moving story of a Haitian woman and her family during the past three decades. Left behind at the age of 4 with her 2 year old brother, Edwidge Danticat spends 10 years in the care of her aunt and uncle in Haiti while her parents try to start a new live in New York. Eventually the family is united in N.Y., where Edwidge must start a new life with parents she barely knows and two new younger brothers. As she grows older she forms a close bond with her parents while maintaining her ties wi...more
Tajma
Oct 09, 2009 Tajma rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who thinks life has been unfair to THEM!
An extraordinary writer. She is able to convey the deepest emotions with the simplest words. The facts as they are are stunning enough and need no embellishment. The book moves quite quickly, as she doesn't feel the need to dissect every single moment in everyone's life as it pertains to her experience. This is a stirring tribute to her lineage and she should be proud. I was moved to tears by the dignity of her father and her uncle, even in the face of so much pain and grief. So many people give...more
The Awdude
Danticat's intimate prose makes you feel like you're part of her family whose story this memoir narrates. Not only is it heartbreaking and beautiful; it's also a terrifying validation of postcolonial theorists' fears about globalization. It's difficult to maintain the "proud to be an american" mindset when, narratively speaking, the united states chooses to be the antagonist of so many stories like this one. Read Danticat for her absolutely beautiful writing... but also read her for the sake of...more
Bonnie
I read Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones last summer and knew I was in for another treat. This memoir chronicles her early days in Haiti where she is raised by her father’s brother’s family and the abrupt move to Brooklyn to join her parents. Poignant memories of love and separation are framed by horrific events in the political turmoil of her homeland. A moving, beautifully written read.
Maggie
This is an award-winning Autobiography about Edwidge Danticat's two most important family members -- her father and her uncle, Joseph.

When Edwidge was 3 years old her father left for New York on a supposed 'visit' to relatives, but when his visitor's visa was expired he simply stayed in the country. After her sixth birthday her Mother did the same, leaving her and her younger brother, Bob, behind to be raised by her Uncle Joseph and Aunt Denise with the money that mother and father wired from t...more
Jenny
This is a moving, beautifully-written memoir by Edwidge Danticat. Her father emigrated to the US when she was two, leaving her and her brother to be raised by their uncle Joseph in Haiti. Ten years later, she too moved to the US, and was reunited with her parents. This is the story of her uncle and her father, their links to each other, their lives and deaths.

Edwidge Danticat takes you into her world, and you never feel like a stranger there. You get to know generations of her family, and so th...more
Pamela
For some reason I expected this book to be more about politics and the odyssey of Danticat's uncle, who died in custody in Miami in 2004 while seeking temporary asylum. Instead, it is rather more of a memoir about Danticat's life--first, her childhood in Haiti with with her uncle and aunt; then her emigration to New York at the age of twelve to rejoin her mother and father, whom she had not seen in many years. The work has the delicate touch and vivid details one expects from Danticat, along wit...more
Carol Hunter
A very moving memoir of a Haitian family. Edwidge Danticat has two "fathers" who are very close to her heart: her father, Mira and his older brother Joseph who is a loving and charismatic pastor. It moves between Haiti and the United States. The end of the story paints an ugly picture of our Dept. of Homeland Security.
Bookreaderljh
I learned so much about the political turmoil in Haiti through this book but the family story is what is just so compelling!! Still - the ending was so unbelievably sad that the last 30 pages were difficult to read as the tears running down my face kept smearing the words.
Seven
Jun 06, 2008 Seven rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
First and foremost I love this author: Edwidge Danticat. And this last book made me cry and realized that Haitian are the forgotten people and it very sad that we can do more to help them more. It’s a beautiful book of family, love, and what goes on in Haiti.
Lisa Silverman
A powerful story told with restraint, but while it was interesting from a cultural/political point of view, I wasn't as wowed by the writing as I expected from all the accolades.
Michael Dobe
If you read one book about modern Haiti and its relationship to the United States, it should be this book. Completing the book just now and putting it down reluctantly, I feel as though Danticat's family is somehow my family too -- or if not family, at least close family friends. As a narrative of the immigrant experience this one goes on the shelf next to two of my all time favorites: Upton Sinclair's _The Jungle_ and Alaa al-Aswany's_Chicago_. As a family drama, I would also liken it to Frank...more
Jennifer
If I could, I would give this lovely autobiography/biography a tad less than 4 stars. Perhaps because not a novelized version of the Haiti that Danticat knows (as was Breath Eyes Memory), the prose is very stark and straightforward. The language felt less rich, and the overall emotional heft of the book also felt less important. There is love but little beauty or job, it seemed, in her memories of family. But then it is the story of the loss of two men she loved, and perhaps it is understandably...more
Joy Wilson
This is a very moving memoir in which the author experiences 2 deaths and the birth of her child all within a 6 month period. I am not prone to being emotionally moved by many things, but this book left me teary-eyed in several places. Haiti has always just been a blip in my radar, but listening to the author's story made me understand how America's engagements in foreign affairs affect the lives of so many people. This book is best read by older readers who have lived life and understand its re...more
Ana
Simple and harrowing. Sorrow with a smile.
Brittany (lemondrop)
Brother, I’m Dying, the story of the deaths of the two men who raised Edwidge–her father and her uncle, was profoundly and deeply affecting. Like many kids whose parents are emigrating to the U.S., Danticat and her brother remained behind in Haiti as first their father and then their mother emigrated.

Throughout the beginning of the book I was struck by how private Danticat was with sharing info with her family, but then, I realized why. For years, when she was able to speak to her parents, it wa...more
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Danticat to speak about the book 1 32 Sep 21, 2007 04:10PM  
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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 The Dew Breaker Claire of the Sea Light

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“It's not easy to start over in a new place,' he said. 'Exile is not for everyone. Someone has to stay behind, to receive the letters and greet family members when they come back.” 15 likes
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