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The Dew Breaker

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  3,856 ratings  ·  414 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)
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Pauline 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)
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Brian Sweany
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
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...more
Michael Lindy
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
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...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...more
Jenny Shank

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...more
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.
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.
One of those authors who can't seem to write a bad book. All her stories are great.
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
edwidge danticat lures you with the promise of a sweet and simple story; but what you get is vin diagram of haitian american lives. imagine playing six degrees of seperation with a national identity being the binding link. in the memories of home/ponderings about the present danticat paints a vivid picture of the complexities of being human while being haitian in american. i know that sounds wierd, but there is a huge dose of humanity that comes along with these tales. the way people react in th...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...more
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
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
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
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
Bethany Deines
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
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
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...more
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.
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...more
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...more
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.
Michael Shilling
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.
An intense story. Danticat's main character remains somewhat hidden, and the interweaving of short vignettes about both his victims and his family provide an intriguing, roundabout backdrop to his characterization.
Edwidge Danticat frequently makes a theme of the atrocities that occurred in Haiti in its tumultuous history. The Dew Breaker is no exception with this collection of stories that all connect to a torturer, a dew breaker. Even with this connection, Danticat tells very different stories about very different people who all share the trauma of the regime change that scarred Haiti. She makes you feel as if you are there, sharing a world that connects Bel Air, New York and Miami. A short but powerful...more
A girl name Ka and her father were going on a trip. Ka makes a wooden statue of her father. Ka and her father are on a trip to show the statue to someone who would like to buy it. The statue is a ruckus to Ka's father but doesn’t show it. Ka and her father got there and Ka's father just leaves. They were staying at a motel but before they left he took the sculpture. When he came back to the motel he came without the statue. I liked the book a little bit but it was confusing to me. I would rather...more
Ron Charles
As the world hopes for a quick return to order after this month's revolution in Haiti, Edwidge Danticat offers a warning about the persistence of disorder for those who have survived. A native of Haiti who moved to the United States when she was 12, Danticat earned a devoted audience for her debut novel, "Breath, Eyes, Memory" (1994), which earned Oprah's approval, and "Krik? Krak!" (1995), which became a National Book Award finalist.

Her new novel seems less autobiographical than either of those...more
"Dew breaker" is a Creole name for a torturer, referring to the disruption of a morning's peaceful serenity by walking across the dew-covered grass. In this case that grass was disturbed by Haitian military, coming in the early morning to arrest, torture and kill those who spoke out in any way against the Haitian dictatorship of the 1960's. This rather short novel by a Haitian-American author is the fictional story of a man living in New York as a kind father, barber, and landlord. Although some...more
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Dreams as I read 1 14 May 09, 2009 12:58PM  
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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 Claire of the Sea Light Brother, I'm Dying

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“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.” 6 likes
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