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

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  7,267 ratings  ·  746 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 March 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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,267 ratings  ·  746 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Dew Breaker
Swaroop
Mar 23, 2021 rated it liked it
Maybe this is the
beginning of
madness...
Forgive me for
what I am saying.
Read it... quietly
quietly.


~ Osip Mandelstam

The Dew Breaker is interesting as the contents can be read either as short separate stories or as a single novel as the stories are all linked. These well-written stories are about 'a dew breaker' (a torturer), who commits serious crimes in his country, Haiti, then moves to America and takes up a new identity.

An ordinary immigrant in the adopted country, who holds terrible secrets
...more
PorshaJo
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
...more
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
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Dew Breaker, Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat is Haitian American author, whose works, focus on the lives of women, and their relationships. She also addressed issues of power, injustice, and poverty.

The Dew Breaker consists of nine episodes, or short stories, although each tells its own story, leading to a coherent and unified understanding of a whole, and each illustrates the lives of people through a vein and a root.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز نخست ماه می سال 2009میلادی

عنوان: ژاله‌کش؛ نویسنده
...more
Maxwell
Oct 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, black-authors
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
...more
♥ 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
...more
Kathleen
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
...more
Debra
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
...more
Moonkiszt
This book of stories, strung like beads on the fibers of a common source, from differing viewpoint seems to reflect the heartbreak of Haiti, most of which confounded me. This is not my usual reading fare, but I am working through a list of books that must be read before I die. . .so this one now is done. Read. Not sure what it has brought me. When I complete a book and have that thought, I'm left with a feeling of failure.

Edwidge Danicat (what a lovely name. . . .) does have a wonderful way of
...more
Olivia
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Libby - On gardening hiatus
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Irene
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.
Irene
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
There is an idea here.. an idea for what could have been a very unique and interesting book and some of it was written beautifully but it could have been so much more if the author had only gone into the characters and their inner worlds more. No sooner would I, the reader, become interested in a character then she'd jump to something completely new and different. In short, the book was all shallow no depth for me. ...more
AC
Students will like this book. Very moving, thoughtful, and well-constructed.
R K
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
...more
Savvy
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
...more
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
billyskye
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
...more
Sara
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
Ali
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. ...more
Priya
Feb 19, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read_in_2022
Everything inside was my first book by the author and I loved her writing. The stories seemed to come to life as did the characters she wrote about, set in Haiti and the US.

It's the same in this book that has a darker premise because it is about the truth of a man with a dark past coming out years later. Years that he has lived a life of respectability, if marred by fear of being found out, with his wife and daughter. The dew breaker as those like him were called, was a man who tortured and kil
...more
Max
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
...more
Mark
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
...more
BookOfCinz
I enjoy Edwidge Danticat's writing so much. A fellow Bookstagrammer is doing The Year of Danticat where she is reading all of Danticat's writings and I am here for it. I went to the library and saw The Dew Breaker, I picked it up not knowing what the story was about and I am happy I did.

The book is a collection of stories told from different perspectives that references "The Dew Breaker". The Dew Breaker is a torturer that lived and worked in Haiti but escaped to New York to start a new life an
...more
FreeFormLady
I would like to give it 4 stars for Danticat's beautiful writing style. However, short stories just fall short for me. ...more
☕Laura
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
La La
4.5 stars on the blog.

This is an anthology of interconnected stories about life in Haiti under military dictatorship; it's horrors, and how some escaped to the United States. It is an extremely compelling read. It is also a story steeped in Haitian culture. I highly recommend this title to everyone.

The .5 star deduction is because of timeline jumps which were many times confusing. It would have helped if the year, or a historic milestone, was casually mentioned to identify the point in time.

I re
...more
Ron Charles
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mandy
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Essential CBD Extract 1 2 Nov 24, 2020 10:13PM  
Dreams as I read 1 15 May 09, 2009 12:58PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion
  • Masters of the Dew
  • How the García Girls Lost Their Accents
  • Kiss of the Fur Queen
  • Alpha. Abidjan-Gare du Nord: Abidjan-Gare du Nord (Hors collection)
  • The Grief Keeper
  • Helium
  • The Unpublished City
  • Intimacies
  • God Loves Haiti
  • Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture
  • Winter in the Blood
  • كتاب الأخلاق
  • Zong!
  • Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy
  • Make Your Home Among Strangers
  • The Feast of Love
  • The Way of Story: The Craft & Soul of Writing
See similar books…
See top shelves…
2,253 followers
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

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
36 likes · 5 comments
“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.” 24 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…