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Brother, I'm Dying

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,586 Ratings  ·  567 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
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2007)
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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
Nov 26, 2007 Kirby rated it really liked it
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
Claire McAlpine
After reading a number of equally excellent books concerning daughters, mothers and grandmothers, it is great to read about the special connections between a daughter and her two fathers, for Edwidge Danticat's writes of both her father Mira, who left Haiti for New York when she was 2 years old - and her Uncle Joseph, who treated her like a daughters for those nine long years that followed before she and her brothers Bob were able to join their parents and the two new brothers that had arrived i ...more
Clif Hostetler
Jan 09, 2016 Clif Hostetler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
Leslie Reese
Oct 23, 2015 Leslie Reese rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir

In Brother, I’m Dying Danticat tells the stories of her father, Andre (aka Mira), and his brother---her uncle, Joseph, who along with his wife, Denise, raised Edwidge and her brother in Haiti while their parents immigrated and worked to prepare to bring the family together in New York in the 1970s and early 1980s; and how, in 2004, she lost these two men--- her father to pulmonary fibrosis, while her uncle, a pastor, languished in a detention center in Miami after fleeing gang threats in Haiti a
Sep 14, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  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
Feb 12, 2014 Lizzie rated it really liked it
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
Dec 17, 2007 Lauren rated it it was amazing
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
May 05, 2008 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
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
Courtney Payne
Sep 14, 2007 Courtney Payne rated it really liked it
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
Dec 31, 2015 poingu rated it really liked it
Intelligent, thoughtful, and heartbreaking. A first-hand account of one man's ordeal, which illustrates in stark relief the way U.S. policies on immigration have combined with ignorance and systemic racism to cause untold suffering in Haitians. Danticat allows us to get to know her uncle in all his humanity and dignity before taking us step by step through his most terrible suffering and death at the hands of immigration officers. Most of this slim memoir is full of love and joy, even in the mid ...more
Mar 08, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it
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
Sep 14, 2014 Doreen rated it really liked it
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
Jan 29, 2008 Julia rated it liked it
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
Jul 19, 2008 Judy rated it really liked it
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
I love Danticat! She is a master storyteller.

After grave political turmoil, separation from her parents and later the aunt and uncle who cared for her in her formative years, Danticat tells an amazing story of an enduring family bond and the immigrant experience in the US. This isn't a happy feel good story, but you don't walk away from it depressed or angry. It's far too compelling for those emotions. You will feel deep sadness at times, like her parents leaving for the US without her and her
Nothing impressed me with this title. Lots of words that just rambled on and on and on. I just don't like these kind of books. I didn't enjoy I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and this book was similar to the title Brother I'm Dying, but it was only a 1 star read as much of that title made no sense to me. I think both these books won awards, but I can't feel the magic.

Truly, jumping around and describing Haiti like she did, was mind boggling to this outsider. I see from other reviews, I'm the mini
Jan 29, 2016 Janey rated it it was amazing
This book is essential reading. It's beautiful writing, a story of a family's love that has me weak in the knees. And it's a crushing indictment of US immigration policy toward Haitians and toward asylum seekers in general. The way that the mindset of prison, the structures of prison, the actions of prison permeate our treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers is horrific, true story, as horrific in its way as the US occupation of Haiti a hundred years ago.
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
Feb 19, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing
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
Leslie Larson
Sep 28, 2014 Leslie Larson rated it it was amazing
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.

One of the
Oct 09, 2009 Tajma rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Feb 11, 2010 The Awdude rated it really liked it
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
Jul 18, 2015 Cathy rated it really liked it
Interesting, well written, nonfiction account of Edwidge Danticat's beloved uncle Joseph. I am not that familiar with Haiti's political history's, and it was interesting and sad to learn how turmoil and conflict affected Haitians. Edwidge and her brother were taken care of by her Uncle Joseph when her parents emigrated to the US. She grew to consider him as her father since she lived with him and his wife for 8 years. As a side note, it's hard to imagine that her parents left her and her brother ...more
Jan 27, 2013 Bonnie rated it really liked it
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.
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
May 18, 2015 Loretta rated it really liked it
This is the story of two brothers and of a daughter's great love for both of them. This is a recounting of the author's life. At the age of four the author was left in the care of her uncle in Haiti when her parents left for America. So her uncle became very important for her. We hear about her life there in Haiti. Her uncle becomes a priest/minister of a church he builds there. Meanwhile her father gets a job and eight years later, he brings her and her brother Bob to the US. But they keep in c ...more
Jenny Yates
Aug 03, 2014 Jenny Yates rated it really liked it
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
Jun 13, 2014 Pamela rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 22, 2008 Carol Hunter rated it really liked it
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.
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500 Great Books B...: Brother, I'm Dying - Edwidge Danticat - Aubrey 1 5 Nov 12, 2014 11:00AM  
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
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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.” 21 likes
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