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The Farming of Bones

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  8,188 ratings  ·  784 reviews
The Farming of Bones begins in 1937 in a village on the Dominican side of the river that separates the country from Haiti. Amabelle Desir, Haitian-born and a faithful maidservant to the Dominican family that took her in when she was orphaned, and her lover Sebastien, an itinerant sugarcane cutter, decide they will marry and return to Haiti at the end of the cane season. Ho ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published April 4th 1998)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  8,188 ratings  ·  784 reviews

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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
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I looked to my dreams for softness, for a gentler embrace, for relief from the fear of mudslides and blood bubbling out of the riverbed, where it is said the dead add their tears to the river flow.

It is not often one reads a story with death and loss as its theme and still find beauty in the melancholy. This harrowing story balances its sadness with love interludes. Sensuality appears through bursts of lyricism, spurts of softness within pointed language.

Haitian lovers, Annabelle and Sebast
Connie G
Edwidge Danticat has written a work of literary fiction centered around the 1937 massacre of Haitians who were working in the Dominican Republic. This was done under the direction of the Dominican dictator Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo. The island of Hispaniola is divided by a river into two countries--the Dominican Republic which had been colonized by Spain, and Haiti which had a mix of people of French and African ancestry. Tensions ran strong between the two small Caribbean countries.

The narr
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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 carried out of a genocide. It's fiction loaded down heavily with the kind of truth you wish you didn't have to believe - 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 na
Layla Strohl
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it
3 ½ stars. To give context to the story, I’m going to start this review with a brief history lesson: located in the Caribbean, the Hispaniola island is basically split in half, with the former French colony of Haiti on one side of the island and the former Spanish colony of the Dominican Republic on the other. During the 30’s, Rafael Trujillo came into power in the Dominican Republic, and, like so many other demagogues both before and after him, decided to demonize and scapegoat some of his coun ...more
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, edwidge-danticat
I picked up this book at a vendor table while at the 2013 Harlem Book Fair . I had never heard of the author and the cover wasn’t particularly attractive but, after reading the back, I checked the price. I figured for $3, it was worth it. It was.

I enjoyed this book from the beginning, but about half way through “the slaughter” begins and the book really takes off. Killings are described in graphic detail, but the story is written in a way that it’s not too much.

All the characters find themselve
Jen Fordyce
Aug 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Read By RodKelly
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was not very impressed by my first Danticat novel at all. The Farming of Bones is written as a sort of romance, sort of historical fiction novel, sort of bildungsroman, and this hodge podge of indecision made for an incredibly dull reading experience. I was disappointed because the action swirls around the incredibly violent Parsley Massacre of 1937 in which tens of thousands of Haitians were slaughtered by Dominican troops and civilians on orders given by the dictator Rafael Trujillo (which i ...more
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Ana Ovejero
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it
'Misery won't touch you gentle. It always leaves its thumbprints on you; sometimes it leaves for others to see, sometimes for nobody but you to know of.'

This story tells the masacre of Haitains in Dominican Republic in 1937. These two countries are divided by a river, a borderline easy to cross by thousands of peasants looking for work harvesting the sugarcanes. Here is where we find Amabelle, a young Haitian who works in the house of Señora Valencia since she was a child, becoming an orphan as
Dusty Myers
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
When one reads the news, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that despite all the good things people do, humankind's capacity to do evil to one another and to depersonalize one another is virtually limitless. When one reads literature, one realizes that this phenomenon is not unique to the present but has existed throughout the entirety of human history. This is not a happy realization; but it does contain a sliver of a silver lining -- apparently, we somehow persevere and carry on as a pe ...more
Kathryn in FL
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I read this years ago and it still echos in my mind. The characters were challenged by great terror and yet, they did not sacrifice their love for one another but fought like only those with a great purpose will.
Set aside an entire day (depending on how quickly you read), this will be a book that demands to be completed from the time you read the first page.
Ms. Danticat has phenomenal talent and I think it is best showcased in this particular story.
S.R. Wemyss
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
"I immediately sank my teeth into the mango, letting the thick, heavy juices fill my mouth" (p. 21). So describes the experience of reading this book. ...more
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a tough read, maybe made more so by what was happening in the USA as I read it.

This book delivers a fictionalized account of the Parsley Massacre, an event that took place in the Dominican Republic in 1937 where the nationalists decided the Haitians (who were mostly in country to work fields and were considered to be only slightly useful and were barely tolerated) had to go. Because skin tones were often similar, the way the DR identified the Haitians was to carry parsley and ask them t
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, fiction, haiti
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.

Diane Brown
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Danticat’s writing is incredible. It’s hard to believe she wrote this book at such a young age. The topic—the massacre of thousands of Haitians by Dominicans in 1937 under the reign of Trujillo—is so overwhelming, and her handling of it is so sensitive and moving. On a sentence level, the book is so accomplished and there’s so much mystery and poetry, along with so much grief and anguish. The structure is also wonderful—a short book that comes full circle, spanning almost thirty years without lo ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
I knew nothing about the Haitian massacre in the 30's before reading this book. It is similar to the tales of horror told by Rwandan survivors. Mans' inhumanity to man. ...more
Sonia Allison
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lynchingatrocities massacres

"The slaughter is the only thing that is mine to pass on."
"We would have been beggars if we had not come here. "
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars - It is tough when I read a book that so many people simply adore. What should have been a heartbreaking narrative of a massacre of thousands of Haitians by the Dominican Republic government in 1937 left me cold. The characters of Amabelle, Sebastien, and Yves, and others were so flat and one-dimensional that I couldn't work up much interest in their fates as the horrors were occurring.

The narrator, Amabelle, was part of my part of the problem. Danticat employs dreamy sequences which
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it
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
David Shin
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Joslyn Allen
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Edwidge Danticat writes with sophistication beyond her years and wmediumith an ethereal beauty. It is unbelievable to me that someone can produce works of such maturity and grace as "Breath, Eyes, Memory" and "the farming of bones" before the age of 30.

In "the farming of bones" Danticat takes her readers to the other side of her native island of Hispaniola, laying bare the oppression and desperation of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic of the 1930s. Here she explores the trials of a
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
Apr 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am late to the game-Recently there seemed to be a lot of hype for Edwidge Danticat. Then she received 2017 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, comparable to the Nobel Prize. So I decided to rectify my ignorance on her writing.

I was blown away. She paints images with words in this harrowing novel about Haitian genocide in 1937 in Dominican Republic. To me it was quintessential Caribbean writing. She was able to evoke country life and such detailed characters with few words. It is such
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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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