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

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  6,065 ratings  ·  634 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
Paperback, 244 pages
Published March 8th 2005 by Vintage (first published 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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,065 ratings  ·  634 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the things I love about GR is discovering new authors and new books. One day I happened to read a review of The Dew Breaker, both an author and book I never heard of before. I was interested. A number of days later I went to my library book sale and came across this book and snatched it up. Didn't even think twice about it. Then, it sat on my shelves for two years. Finally, the day came and I picked it up and I was hooked.

The Dew Breaker is a series of stories of various peoples lives in
Diane S ☔
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor
"Aline had never imagined that people like Beatrice existed, men and women whose tremendous agonies filled every blank space in their lives. Maybe there were hundred, even thousands, of people like this, men and women chasing fragments of themselves long lost to others."

Although this quote appears later in the book, it sums up succinctly what these linking stories encompass. People who were tortured by the Dew Breaker, or family members were, people who think they see him and even the people who
Oct 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, i-own-it
3.5 stars

The Dew Breaker is a story in nine parts. Each part could be read as its own short story, and I vacillate between liking and disliking this structure. Usually I'd enjoy something like this, but the stories are at times so loosely connected that it's hard to see the bigger picture. And yet, part of me likes the way the author drops information ever so carefully, that it makes a sort of puzzle out of the reading.

Regardless, the stories are beautifully written and tragically told. You get
♥ Sandi ❣
3 stars

Finished this book earlier in the month. I held off reviewing it because the story was so disjointed for me. I tried to go back and reread a bit of it, then tried to read each vignette separately, but neither really worked for me. I clearly did not like this book as much as others did. I just felt that each story meandered along, with a couple sentences relating back to the general premise of the book. This book was hard for me to pick back up and complete.

Story line is a man with a deep
Winner of The Story Prize, Pen/Faulkner Award Finalist, a Washington Post Book World Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, and Detroit Free Press Best Book of the Year and National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, THE DEW BREAKER by Edwidge Danticat has a beautiful cover.

"With characteristic lyricism and grace, Danticat proves the painful legacy of a time when sons turned against their fathers, children were orphaned, and communities were torn apart."-The Philadelphia
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Maybe this is the beginning of madness...
Forgive me for what I am saying.
Read it...quietly, quietly.

-Osip Mandelstam

The title of this book "Dew Breaker" "comes from a Creole phrase which refers to those who break the serenity of the grass in the morning dew. It is a Creole nickname for torturer."The "Dew Breakers" are a group of volunteers who tortured and killed thousands of civilians under the regimes of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti.

This book is a combination of short st
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
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
These are interconnected stories which revolve around a former Haitian torturer now living a quiet life in the United States, his former identity known only to his wife. The characterizations were fantastic. The experiences of Haitians living through a brutal dictatorship and its aftermath in exile was powerfully conveyed.
Brian Sweany
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
This book. This fantastic gem of a book. This little book containing an abundance of talent is one of the best books I've read this year. This book handles trauma the way it is experienced, and that is saying something. This is a collection of short stories that are not overtly complex or long, yet, Danticat is able to weave a story through each story, thus, connecting them all together.

The messages she sends to the reader are not told to you directly and this is very crucial to the story. You
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Big Lou's Book Reviews
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
People struggling with their Haitian- American identity will find The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat useful. This is because throughout the book several characters move from Haiti to America and have to find their place in society. Additionally, people struggling with their cultural identity, in general, can benefit from reading The Dew Breaker. The reader can apply lessons learned by the characters in the book into their own life. The Dew Breaker can be used in a scholastic setting or for a ca ...more
An outstanding collection of 9 short stories, with characters and events intertwined (like Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio"), and revolving around the Tonton Macoute in Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora. Despite its grim backdrop, Danticat writes beautifully and with great sensitivity and with human understanding. Highly recommended!
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific book. Don’t @ me.

The Dew Breaker reminds me of The Things They Carried, but centers on Haitian expats coping with haunting reverberations of the Duvalier regime instead of on American veterans living with memories of the war in Vietnam. The writing is lovely. The characters well-imagined and heartbreaking. The stories are loosely (but masterfully) connected. Together they flesh out a world that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

I picked this up under the mistaken imp
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It reminds me of 'Go Down Moses' in its blurring of the lines between novel and linked short stories. It also blurs the victim/victimizer lines in smart, complicated ways. Read it. Teach it. It's great.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: caribbean
A quiet Haitian man in NYC with an artist daughter, a secret he and his wife have been hiding from her from their time in Haiti is slowly unearthed: this is the basic plot of Danticat’s beautifully written novel. The nine parts could stand alone as short stories, but they work together to show the effects of revolution, violence, and the choices made during those times on all the people around you, whether you’re aware of them or not. The stories and the topics in this novel cover kept calling t ...more
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
We are introduced to a Haitian man, living in Brooklyn. He emigrated here, over thirty years ago. He is a good father and a good husband. He also has a very dark past, which involved, working as a prison guard, in his homeland. Rumors of atrocities abound...
We are then shown separate stories, of the lives of other Haitians, as they deal with the struggles of life and each of them has some connection, with the “Dew Breaker”, (or torturer).
This was my first novel, by this author and I was quite i
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ratings (1 to 5)
Writing: 4
Plot: 3
Characters: 4
Emotional impact: 4
Overall rating: 3.75
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book about a man, some of the horrible things he did in his past, and how he has (tried(?)) to start anew. This book was written in a format where each chapter had it's own story about a different character(s). Each character tied into the main story/character. I usually really love this type of book, and for the most part I loved this one. However, I am not sure if I really felt that the overall story had closure. Maybe that was the point. (How can a story like this really have closu ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
The brutality, terror and shame of Papa (and Baby) Doc's Haiti is transported to the diaspora streets of NYC. Such sins cannot be absolved by simply leaving. This book is a series of linked sketches that bind a pair of immigrants to their past in the villages and militias of their home, which is never far away. A touching and perceptive story of love and grief.
I would like to give it 4 stars for Danticat's beautiful writing style. However, short stories just fall short for me.
Jenny Shank
Nov 25, 2010 rated it really liked it

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 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Michael Lindy
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
I enjoyed the short stories in this collection. Thanks to having read Brother I'm Dying beforehand, I can definitely see a lot of real life similarities between Edwidge Danticat's character's background (i.e., a character that's a preacher, character's immigrating to America after violent actions taken against them, etc.) that draw from her Haitian family.

However, my main qualm with this book is that the main character, "The Dew Breaker," story feels underwritten. (view spoiler)
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
Dec 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Dreams as I read 1 15 May 09, 2009 12:58PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Masters of the Dew (Caribbean Writers Series)
  • Unburnable
  • The Chosen Place, The Timeless People
  • Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Trilogy
  • The Rainy Season
  • The Stone That the Builder Refused
  • How to Escape from a Leper Colony
  • Mr. Potter
  • An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President
  • The Uses of Haiti
  • Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution
  • Free Enterprise: A Novel of Mary Ellen Pleasant
  • Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola
  • The Pagoda
  • Ancestor Stones
  • How to Read the Air
  • Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment
  • Myal
See similar books…
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
“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.” 21 likes
“My mother used to say that we'll all have three death: the one when our breath leaves our bodies to rejoin the air, the one when we are out back in the earth, and the one that will erase us completely and no one will remember us at all.” 3 likes
More quotes…