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Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  689 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
"Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them."--"Create Dangerously"

In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art
ebook, 189 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by Princeton University Press (first published July 22nd 2010)
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Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge DanticatWide Sargasso Sea by Jean RhysThe Farming of Bones by Edwidge DanticatWhite Teeth by Zadie SmithIn the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Caribbean/West Indian Diaspora Literature - Women
29th out of 162 books — 93 voters
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean RhysBreath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge DanticatThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayKaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest by Wayne Gerard TrotmanOur Man in Havana by Graham Greene
The Caribbean 101
76th out of 382 books — 76 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sep 18, 2010 Kristen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am always a little leery when a favorite writer publishes a collection of essays relying heavily on previously published work. Oftentimes, I am deeply dissatisfied. The material doesn't hold together, and I find that the writer has done disappointingly little work to update the material or to excise repetitions among the essays. This was not the case as I read Edwidge Danticat's new book, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. Danticat's collection is surprisingly fresh (almost ever ...more
Leslie Reese
Jun 09, 2015 Leslie Reese rated it it was amazing
After meeting Edwidge Danticat in March of this year, I decided that I wanted to read Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. (A title Danticat borrowed from Albert Camus as the title of her 2008 Toni Morrison Lecture delivered at Princeton University). A book of less than 200 pages, composed of 12 essays/chapters and a “postscript,” this book---published in 2010---is the ninth of Danticat’s published titles. It looks small and unassuming but---trust me---I am still meditating on its c ...more
Geoffrey Philp
May 25, 2011 Geoffrey Philp rated it it was amazing
To choose writing as a vocation is to risk shame as well as personal and professional failure. First, your parents, quite legitimately, will worry about your ability to make a living and whether or not they will have to subsidize your lifestyle for the rest of their lives. They fear you will be bankrupt before you turn thirty and ruin your chances for financial health for the rest of your life—or at least until you turn thirty-seven. For American Express never forgets. Or forgives.

Your friends,
Oct 25, 2011 Danita rated it it was amazing
Inept is the word that immediately comes to mind when trying to "review" this book. Ms. Danticat's words, halting yet fluid, have borne upon me the beginnings of an understanding of a nation and its beleaguered people. I have no mechanism with which to comprehend the physical, political, emotional and spiritual devastation so many have endured, but my mind is now open, reset and forever changed by her deft and daring creation.

So many of the questions she asked herself (and others) are questions
Sophfronia Scott
Jun 18, 2013 Sophfronia Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I wasn't sure if this book would speak to me since I'm not an immigrant artist as Danticat describes. But the more I read the more I realized she was not just speaking of writing from a place of danger and displacement. She's talking about the danger of going deep into one's own truth and creating fearlessly from that place. Since that is exactly what I seek to do as a writer I found this book inspiring and challenging. It encourages me to approach my work again and again with diligence ...more
Aaminah Shakur
Dec 03, 2012 Aaminah Shakur rated it it was amazing
As a fan of everything Danticat writes and a writer/artist myself, I have been anxious to get my hands on this book since its publication. I read it over the space of two days, mostly sitting on my couch immovable, but some while riding on the bus to & from work, tears streaming down my face. The book is comprised of several essays around the central theme of what both of her countries, Haiti & the U.S., mean to her, and the ways in which she feels at home and perpetually an immigrant in ...more
LaToya Hankins
Jan 26, 2012 LaToya Hankins rated it it was amazing
I loved this book because of how she address her experiences as being a Haitian/writer/immigrant and how one identity often feeds another. Her commentary in "The Other Side of the Water" on going home to bury a cousin who she barely knew despite them both living in America and in "Walk Straight" about visiting a great aunt depicts a universal experience of how our family shapes our lives and how you never realize how little time you have with family until they are gone. "Our Guernica" puts a fa ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Justine rated it it was amazing
I just started Danticat's new book, and I wanted to read aloud the first chapter through a loudspeaker in a van driving through the streets, like in the old-fashioned way politicians used to advertise their candidacies. I realize, though, that shouting it might not meet the spirit of her first chapter....but I think you get my point: everyone should read it. But, again, such a dictatorial mode would be antithetical to Danticat's message. And around and around I go....

The only problem with her bo
Jan 12, 2016 Iman rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
“If we began to put plaques all over Port-au-Prince to commemorate deaths,” a friend had once told me when I’d pointed this out to him, “we would have room for little else.”


“In the tent clinic I say hello to Monica. She looks up at me and blinks but otherwise does not react. Her eyes are dimmed and it appears that she may still be in shock. To watch your house and neighborhood, your city, crumble, then to watch your father die, and then nearly to die yourself, all before your tenth birthday,
Zoe Xiuha
Jan 11, 2016 Zoe Xiuha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Danticat's prose is beautiful, seamlessly weaving together personal narratives with historical ones, along with familial stories that fall somewhere in between the private and the public memory. The overall collection is thoughtfully curated so one essay flows easily into the next, each building off and evoking themes/memories of the previous pieces. As a reader I was often humbled by the international, intergenerational web of context Danticat develops throughout the collection, and was deeply ...more
Jan 13, 2015 Leslie added it
I thought this would serve as a unique writing muse or motivator and I also thought it would stem from a perspective accounting of varied immigrant viewpoints of multiple nationalities. It proved to be neither. Well-written, often beautiful and composed with a crispness that transports you, this is almost solely autobiographical and thus almost exclusively focused on Haiti and her perspective. So it was a letdown for me due to too casual a review of the back cover description, though it appeals ...more
Lisa Lee
Dec 17, 2014 Lisa Lee is currently reading it
Shelves: black, female-author

Creating dangerously: "Albert Camus [...] suggests that it is creating as a revolt against silence, creating when both the creation and the reception, the writing and the reading, are dangerous undertakings, disobedience to a directive."
Privilege vs. courage in creating dangerously: "Perhaps, just as Alice Walker writes of her own forebears in her essay 'In Search of Our Mother's Gardens,' my blood ancestors--unlike my literary ancestors--were so weather-beaten, terror
Aug 26, 2014 Bookreaderljh rated it really liked it
Danticat is one of my favorite authors. This book was a collection of essays revolving around the need for immigrant authors to be willing to write of their homeland to tell a story of that place even when doing so is dangerous or negative. Several of these essays tell of Haiti at various times of revolution. And often it's those who tell the stories or more likely the truth who put their lives in danger for doing what needs to be done. With journalists threatened in the middle east today that f ...more
Apr 10, 2013 Breena rated it it was amazing
This is an important book for writers especially to read. If you care anything about what you do as an artist -- how you represent, you will appreciate this collection of Danticat's essays. It is a smooth, engaging read.
Aug 15, 2011 Jessica marked it as to-read
Fiercely intelligent and achingly beautiful.

Once again, my local librarian has anticipated my reading urges before I am even aware of them...I applaud her book buying sensibility.
Tim Hoiland
Jan 13, 2015 Tim Hoiland rated it it was amazing
In a collection of essays called Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, the French philosopher and journalist Albert Camus writes, “Art cannot be a monologue. We are on the high seas. The artist, like everyone else, must bend to his oar, without dying if possible.”

Art and death are two things that have shaped the life and writing of the acclaimed Haitian novelist Edwidge Danticat, whose book Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work borrows its title from Camus.

Though Danticat emigrated to the
Jan 19, 2011 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book talked about the, sometimes conflicting, feelings Danticat had about being an immigrant artist. She writes, "One of the advantages of being an immigrant is that two very different countries are forced to merge within you. The language you were born speaking and the one that you will probably die speaking have no choice but to find a common place in your brain and regularly merge there. So too with catastrophes and disasters, which inevitably force you to rethink facile allegiances" (11 ...more
Purple Iris
Jul 14, 2011 Purple Iris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays

Okay, that was my reaction when I just finished the book, but I figure in a few years, I might need a reminder as to why exactly I thought that.

Well, the book is beautifully written. And it is well put-together. You can tell that Danticat actually worked on it as opposed to just slapping together all the essays she had written over the past year.

This was the first collection of essays I was unable to put down. Usually that only happens when I read thrillers. This book was that compelll
Nov 07, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing
I've read all of Danticat's books, several more than once. This book is a collection of essays sponsored by the Toni Morrison Lecture Series at Princeton University.

Danticat now lives in the US. Her parents came to the US first, sending for Edwidge when she was about 12 years old. She was left with Uncle Joseph, a minister who somehow managed to provide her with an education, both in terms of attendance at school, and in terms of the values and feelings she has carried with her. She was reunite
Feb 07, 2012 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Read in September, 2010

I am always a little leery when a favorite writer publishes a collection of essays relying heavily on previously published work. Oftentimes, I am deeply dissatisfied. The material doesn't hold together, and I find that the writer has done disappointingly little work to update the material or to excise repetitions among the essays. This was not the case as I read Edwidge Danticat's new book, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. Danticat's collection is surprisi
Architecture is supposed to solve problems, and the 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio was bent on problem-solving. Harmony was the foundation to his structures. He insisted houses not be built around stagnant water. This design wasn't simply for aesthetic purposes but turned out to be incredibly practical and hygienic as well. Architecture is not only a source of spatial poetry but, in this sense, the discipline saves lives as well. Literature for better or worse, doesn't quite work ...more
Nov 29, 2010 sydney rated it really liked it
In "Create Dangerously," Haitian-American Danticat departs from fiction to write about her experiences as an "immigrant artist." She calls on hundreds of years of Haitian history spanning from the Haitian Revolution to the January, 2010, earthquake and muses on the responsibilities of artists to their countries while weaving together quotes from books, oral histories, and her own memories. She discusses the particular pain of belonging to the Haitian "Dyaspora," a far-flung group of Haitians liv ...more
Ryan Mishap
Feb 11, 2011 Ryan Mishap rated it really liked it
"I have little regard for an art that deliberately aims to shock because it is unable to convince."--Camus

"I used to fear [my parents] reading my books, worried about disappointing them. My stories do not hold a candleto having lived under a dictatorship for most of your adult life, to having your neighbors disappear and not being able even to acknowledge it, to being forced to act as though these neighbors had never existed at all. Reading, and perhaps ultimately writing, is nothing like living
Aug 02, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: summer-2013
I come to this book with two confessions: I have read almost none of Danticat's fiction so far, in spite of her having been one of the most important voices out of the Caribbean for at least the last fifteen years, and I DID MY MASTER'S THESIS ON CARIBBEAN WOMEN'S POETRY, SO HOW COULD I HAVE POSSIBLY NOT READ ANY DANTICAT SO FAR??

(I'll use my daughter's birth as an excuse for not having the extra layer of time to cover works not directly related to my thesis. Ahem. OK, so that was five years ag
Jan 27, 2015 Katherine rated it really liked it
A wonderful book. It thoughtfully and beautifully describes one immigrant's experiences, weaving in literature, history and sociology along the way. I learned a lot about Haiti's history and about the Haitian immigrant or exile community. Create Dangerously is short and sweet, well worth taking (not very much of) your time to read! It's also a cool book to read alongside Mountains Beyond Mountains, as that is an outsider's perspective on Haiti and Danticat is a native Haitian.
Liz Murray
Feb 10, 2012 Liz Murray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tried to get this a few months ago through my local library but this being a suburb of Melbourne and not Brooklyn it wasn't available. I've since discovered the local bookshop and was so excited to be able to order this in. I got it yesterday and read it today in one sitting. It can't be said that it's easy reading and I had goosebumps more than once but the mix of politics, creative expression and reflection on what it is to be alive, and what it is to be dead, touches my heart in a way not m ...more
Justin Howe
May 29, 2014 Justin Howe rated it it was amazing
Part memoir, part essay collection Danticat explores her role as immigrant artist in the USA. "One of the advantages of being an immigrant is that two very different countries are forced to merge within you. The language you were born speaking and the one you will probably die speaking have no choice but to find a common place in your brain and regularly merge there." Definitely worth tracking down.
May 25, 2015 Gabriela rated it really liked it
As with all of Danticat's books, it is beautiful and compelling. I think it is where she speaks most personally about her experiences as an immigrant. It probably would not be the first of her books I recommend but if you enjoy this author and/or are interested in Haiti or the question of immigrant writers then this is a great read.
Feb 24, 2014 Yanira rated it really liked it
This is a great collection of stories/ essay. She does the combination really well. She's such a great writer. However, this is not a light read. It took me a while to finish it. The topic itself is heavy. She deals with the dictatorship and the earthquake. And the writing is also slow and dense. Overall, it's a good read.
Aurora Morales
I loved this linked collection of memoir/essays exploring the task of creating under dangerous conditions, and the challenges of memory, witnessing, and self-definition of the immigrant and/or exiled artist. Most of the people Danticat writes about are Haitian artists, writers and intellectuals, and I loved learning about the ones I was unfamiliar with As a Caribbean writer and immigrant myself, and a witness to political and economic conditions far less harsh than Haiti's but still heartbreakin ...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
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“One of the advantage of being an immigrant is that two very different countries are forced to merge within you. The language you were born speaking and the one you will probably die speaking have no choice but to find a common place in your brain and regularly merge there.” 2 likes
“Posing is death. I think when you make people pose for a photograph, you kill them.” 2 likes
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