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The Farming of Bones

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  4,811 ratings  ·  444 reviews
It is 1937 and Amabelle Désir, a young Haitian woman living in the Dominican Republic, has built herself a life as the servant and companion of the wife of a wealthy colonel. She and Sebastien, a cane worker, are deeply in love and plan to marry. But Amabelle's world collapses when a wave of genocidal violence, driven by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, leads to the sla ...more
Kindle Edition, 336 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
"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
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
Jen Fordyce
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.
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.

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sinai C.
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
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.
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
Danticat has received a lot of attention, and is possibly the first female Haitian-American writer of note. This book is set in the infamous “ethnic cleansing” (to use a current term) that occurred along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 1937 or 1938. The DR dictater Trujillo ordered the slaughter of a large number of Haitians (the exact number is unclear, but it may have been around 12,000 – 15,000) in response to growing tensions between the two peoples in the DR’s border areas ...more
The Farming of the Bones is the story of Annabelle, a Haitian who was left orphaned when her parents drowned. While working as a servant for a Dominican woman and her army husband, the Dominicans rise up against the Haitians and begin to massacre them. Some Haitians attempt to escape and most are killed. Annabelle is one of the few who manages to escape, though she is physically battered along her route of escape. Worst than the memory of all the physical abuse she endured is the loss of the man ...more
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
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
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.
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2008 Monika rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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!
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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.” 39 likes
“I wish I could've done more for her, but some sorrows were simply too individual to share.” 7 likes
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