Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dew Breaker” as Want to Read:
The Dew Breaker
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dew Breaker

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,510 Ratings  ·  463 Reviews
We meet him late in life: a quiet man, a good father and husband, a fixture in his Brooklyn neighborhood, a landlord and barber with a terrifying scar across his face. As the book unfolds, moving seamlessly between Haiti in the 1960s and New York City today, we enter the lives of those around him, and learn that he has also kept a vital, dangerous secret. Edwidge Danticat’ ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dew Breaker, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Pauline McGonagle This was very good but I like her 'The Farming of Bones 'even better.Wonderful writer who captures the trauma that history has left in such a troubled…moreThis was very good but I like her 'The Farming of Bones 'even better.Wonderful writer who captures the trauma that history has left in such a troubled place.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
The Dew Breaker is a book organized into 9 sections (chapters), which are all perfectly able to stand alone as short stories. Each chapter features different characters and different points of view, and seem random at first, but by the end you realize they’re all interlocking and related in some way.

The novel is about an unnamed prison guard/torturer who was part of the Tonton Macoutes, the voluntary militia under Jean-Claude Duvalier’s reign in Haiti. The book is just as much about his life an
Jun 11, 2008 Savvy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Agony and Atonement...

The Dew Breaker is my first taste of the gift of storytelling by Edwidge Danticat......but it won't be my last!

As the novel opens, revealing shocking secrets of the past, it's clear that the reader will not be disappointed.

The Dew Breaker's title comes from a Creole phrase referring to `Tontons Macoutes' (Haitian volunteer torturers) during the regime of the Duvaliers in Haiti. They would often come in the early dawn to take their victims away...thus the broke the serenit
Brian Sweany
Sep 23, 2013 Brian Sweany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much like Tim O'Brien's THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, this book lingers in that nebulous hinterland between short story and novel where few writers have the gumption or the ability to tread. Each chapter is a self-contained story, with divergent and seemingly random settings--Haiti in the dictatorial 1960s, Manhattan in the 1970s, Brooklyn and Queens in the 21st century. And yet slowly, irrevocably, the reader is drawn into the shared love, the shared remorse, the shared history, the shared hope, the ...more
Lea Ann
Generally this was a good book. I enjoyed reading about Haitian and Haitian American culture and I will probably be looking into more of Haiti's political past that makes up so much of the story.

I wish I had approached the book differently when I began reading it, because I started out with the impression that all the stories were connected, and somehow connected to one of the characters in the first chapter. However, each chapter jumped around so wildly in time, place and setting that it would
Jenny Shank
Nov 25, 2010 Jenny Shank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Haitian lives, Haitian scars

The Dew Breaker
Our Rating A
Author: Edwidge Danticat
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 242 pages
Genre: Fiction
Price: $22
By Jenny Shank, Special To The News
March 12, 2004

Despite her youth, Edwidge Danticat has always written with the gravity and insight of a wise old seer. Still, she could not have foreseen that civil unrest would break out in her native Haiti again, just before the publication of her new novel, The Dew Breake
Feb 24, 2011 Bethany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was initially interested in this book (given to me by my boss) because of its ties to Haiti. As a Florida resident, I have had the chance to interact with Haitians and am interested in finding out more about their country and culture. I must say that I was left a little disappointed with Danticat and her writing. The flow was confusing, as it jumped each chapter between different people and time periods. The beginning was interesting and drew me in, and the end tied everything together adequat ...more
علی‌رضا میم
اولش با خوندن پشت جلد کتاب یاد کتاب ِخیلی خوب "همنام" افتادم که اون هم به وضعیت مهاجرانی که از هند به آمریکا اومده بودند پرداخته بود و به ذکر مصائب اونا پرداخته بود. و خب تاثیر خوبی داشت توی ذهنمچون کتاب همنام رو دوست داشتم.

یکی از وجوه اصلی علاقهی من به علوم انسانی به این برمیگرده که باورم اینه که به آدم تحلیل میده. میتونی آدما رو بفهمی.

این کتاباز چند داستان کوتاه تشکیل شده بود که حول یه خانواده و سابقه ی اون ها قبل از مهاجرت به آمریکا و ساختن با خاطرات و رازهایی که توی کشور خودشون -هاییتی-و بعض
Jun 28, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This author is a one-woman Commission on
Reconciliation whose insider knowledge of
recent Haitian history supplies both the need for
reconciliation and its painful possibility. Great
storytelling with many light touches among the
somber facts.
May 24, 2007 Alexandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolutely astounding book. It is a poignant amalgamation of stories that seem disconnected, but eventually come together to create devastingly beautiful and haunting story.
Apr 02, 2008 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those authors who can't seem to write a bad book. All her stories are great.
Michael Lindy
Sep 14, 2012 Michael Lindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose I should not go very far into reviewing "The Dew Breaker" before pointing out the style for which it has gained a certain amount of attention. The structure of "The Dew Breaker" is made out of a myriad of stories, some tying into each other, and others functioning in what is seemingly their own separate world. Not every character knows the other, and not there is no moment where the stories join together. But although the characters may not know each other, they each share the same bac ...more
Sep 01, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-reading
I thought I would like the The Dew Breaker much more than I did. The idea of a linked story cycle—multiple stand-alone short stories that are actually connected but can be read separately—is an interesting one. I was expecting a sort of panoramic view, an exploration of perspective and time. Instead, most of the stories offered very little. They contained about as much plot as the regular short story, but strung it out over too many pages. The lines between characters were underdeveloped, which ...more
The Dew Breaker reads like a dream, in both senses of the phrase (silky smooth, and like the nocturnal neuronal firings). More like a recurring dream in which every night you take the place of a different character and watch the same scene with different eyes. You have to let go of your usual waking-hours desire for continuity and consistency of characters.

The book is beautifully written, as I've come to expect from Danticat. Beautiful and nearly perfectly crafted. I've heard the story described
Dec 15, 2009 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Haiti has always struck me as a place with fascinating history, and since my grandparents lived there from 1967-69, I've been curious to learn more about that particular period. This slim novel, which deals at least partially with that era, seemed like a good way to get a taste of life under the repressive dictatorship of "Papa Doc" Duvalier. It opens with the story of a young woman who's just sold her first sculpture, a mahogany statue of her father. She's on her way to Florida with her father ...more
Sep 12, 2009 Greta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely breathtaking-- twisted, dark, skin-crawlingly disturbing, and, inevitably, heartbreaking. Not quite certain how I feel at the end of it though, and it is definitely the type of story, written in fragments of lives, from a variety of perspectives, that is a puzzle, requiring a reread and a re-reread in order to piece it all together; perhaps doing so will help me clarify how the tangle of deeply inhumane huminty in these pages makes me feel,to which character I feel most connected with ...more
Dec 18, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Edwidge Danticat is still one of my favorite writers, but this was not one of my favorite books of hers. I listened to it on audiobook, and it took me a while to realize that each section was a different short story rather than a different chapter. While the writing is still beautiful, I wasn't sure how some of the stories tied in. They were definitely thought-provoking, particularly since we get to see what is a simultaneous sympathetic and condemning look at a former Haitian macoute who worked ...more
Aug 10, 2010 D.L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book last night and am mostly impressed with the strong lyricism of Danticat's writing. The moving back and forth between 1960s Haiti and present-day New York was enjoyable. However, I am not a big fan of multiple narrative perspectives/stories in books because I feel the flow of the story has been interrupted, which annoys me. In the case of The Dew Breaker there were multiple stories that I had difficulty linking together. The stories seemed isolated with no obvious connec ...more
The Dew Breaker is not quite a novel, not quite a selection of short stories. Some of them are connected to the eponymous character who served as a torturer under the Duvalier regime in Haiti; others don't seem to connect at all. (Or perhaps too obscurely for me to connect the dots; rereading might make connections more obvious.) Danticat's writing style is clean, elegant and descriptive, but it lacked something I can't quite put my finger on—a certain level of emotion, perhaps. Given the subjec ...more
As usual, I loved Danticat's prose and her accounts of the people of Haiti both under the totalitarian dictatorship as well as afterward and into the diaspora of Haitians in New York and Florida, but "The Dew Breaker" disappointed my expectations to some degree. It was billed as a novel, but it read more like a collection of short stories that were too loosely tied together. Only "Book of the Dead," "Miracles," and the title story, "The Dew Breaker" actually held together, but still left me want ...more
Alexandra Jacobs
Oct 15, 2015 Alexandra Jacobs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Danticat's Farming of Bones is in my mind a nearly flawless novel and the Dew Breaker has that working both for and against it. It was difficult not to compare the two works and there are things that worked far better in Farming of Bones. There is a very deliberate pacing to Danticat's writing. With the mounting tension throughout "Farming" this creates quite a visceral sense of anxiety. In the Dew Breaker this same style came off as plodding at times and made some vignettes harder to complete t ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Yoy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dit boek wordt verkocht als roman, maar is dat niet. Het gaat om een bundel kortverhalen. Alle verhalen draaien rond hetzelfde thema. Het eerste en laatste verhaal zijn echt gelinkt, en daar tussen duikt nog weleens een personage van het eerste verhaal op, maar meer verbanden tussen de verhalen zijn er niet.
Doordat het boek als roman werd aangekondigd heeft het zoeken naar verbanden die er niet waren voor veel lezers het leesplezier verknoeid. Als verwittigde lezer kan je wel rustig meegaan in i
Aug 15, 2009 Cynthea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
so, i'm a little torn between 2 and 3 stars. this is really not a novel. it's a collection of short stories loosely tied together. if it was presented that way, i think i would have liked it better.

while the stories themselves were ok, they lacked direction and i think she could have done a lot more with it. i kept questioning where it all was going. if she had taken the first and last chapters and tied them together with a middle, i think it would have been wonderful.

oh well . . . moving on.
Ali Ünal
I personally like these in-between books with chapters having the flavor of stand-alone stories by themselves while as a whole being coherent enough to form a novel. I definitely like them, but not this style of writing, I am afraid. I am going to give one example why this book didn't resonate with me. At all.

In one of the chapter-stories, a woman character remembers how she lost her 3-year old brother when he drowned in the sea. Unfortunately they couldn't find his body. For that reason, the wo
Anne Tucker
Oct 12, 2014 Anne Tucker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the best of her books yet ... she is an astonishing writer, lyrical, canny ... she brings in so many warm memories of childhood and traditions in Haiti alongside shocking tales of brutality during the Duvalier era, the Tonton Macoutes. Simply and beautifully written. Want to find more now - rarely have i read 3 boks of one author on the trot, each one better (to me) than the one before. That could be bcause i appreciate and understand her style better now.
Nov 16, 2015 Sheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Danticat is a powerful writer who tackles intense topics. The Dew Breaker is no exception. This novel blends and blurs the idea of short stories and novels and succeeds wonderfully. The different POVs move through space and time but stay within the history and culture of Haitians and Haitian Americans and that is part of what unites the chapters.

The violent history of Haiti's dictators and the impact they had on generations is explored, as are the ideas of repentance, reconciliation, and wh
Mar 12, 2014 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dew Breaker is a collection of related stories of those who have been survived the brutal dictatorship and oppression of Haiti.

Haiti, what should be an island paradise, turns into a raging hell under a tyrant's reign of terror and a “dew breaker” is the name given to one who tortures.

A central figure, a Haitian immigrant to the U.S. who reveals to his daughter that he is not, as she believes, a prison escapee, but a former prison guard, skilled in torture and the other violent control method
Jul 22, 2014 Shawn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This author was born in Port Au Prince and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 12, forming part of the huge Haitian diaspora in New York. She has published numerous novels and taught creative writing at New York University and the University of Miami.

In the United States there are an estimated 975,000 people of Haitian ancestry. There are also many Haitians in Canada, the Dominican Republic, France, Cuba, and other Caribbean islands. Haitians have been steadily migrating to the U.S. since the
I loved this book so very much - beautifully written, haunting and wise. The story follows a Haitian man in two parts of his life, one in Haiti 1960's and one in NYC post immigration.

Highly recommended, both for general reading and for those doing the "around the world" challenge.
Jul 10, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has an unusual structure that works surprisingly well. It reads like a series of short stories, with all different narrators and out of chronological order, organized so that each one tells us a bit more about the man with the widow's peak who used to torture prisoners in Haiti. I found that I adapted to the new characters and setting of each chapter quickly, enough so that I could get into each story, and the backbone of the novel (the story of the prison guard) was surprisingly linea ...more
Michael Shilling
Jul 14, 2008 Michael Shilling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a novel, but a bunch of stories related to a torturer in Haiti, a Tonton Macoute (literally means Boogeyman) during Papa Doc Duvalier's tyranny from the 60s to the 80s. Several fantastic stories, with some filler.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Dreams as I read 1 14 May 09, 2009 12:58PM  
  • Masters of the Dew (Caribbean Writers Series)
  • Unburnable: A Novel
  • All Souls' Rising
  • The Chosen Place, The Timeless People
  • Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution
  • The Rainy Season
  • Abeng
  • Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Trilogy
  • Annie John
  • Myal
  • The Uses of Haiti
  • The Pagoda
  • An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President
  • GraceLand
  • The Salt Roads
  • How to Read the Air
  • Those Bones Are Not My Child
  • Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman's Journey Toward Independence
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...

Share This Book

“Life was neither something you defended by hiding nor surrendered calmly on other people's terms, but something you lived bravely, out in the open, and that if you had to lose it, you should lose it on your own terms.” 11 likes
More quotes…