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Brother, I'm Dying

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  5,482 ratings  ·  796 reviews
From the best-selling author of The Dew Breaker, a major work of nonfiction: a powerfully moving family story that centers around the men closest to Danticat's heart - her father, Mira, and his older brother, Joseph.

From the age of four, Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph, a charismatic pastor, as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after h
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Knopf
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Victoria My first of hers remains my favorite -- "Breath, Eyes, Memory". More recently read "The Dew Breaker", a close second -- I suspect it's hard to go wron…moreMy first of hers remains my favorite -- "Breath, Eyes, Memory". More recently read "The Dew Breaker", a close second -- I suspect it's hard to go wrong with her(less)

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3.5 stars rounded up to 4 - Edwidge Danticat writes of her love of her two fathers, the first Mira, her biological father, the second, Joseph, her uncle with whom she and brother, Bob lived when their parents moved from Haiti to the US. Danticat recounts her Uncle Joseph’s life, his political affiliation in the 1950s with Daniel Fignolé as well as her Granpè Nozial’s efforts as a guerrilla to repel the US invasion from 1915. When Joseph gives up politics, he turns to religion, building his own c ...more
Before this book, I thought of Haiti in snippets of earthquake, political unrest, the first successful slave revolution and whatever postcolonial joyrides the country had been taken for thereafter by many an intrusive neighbor. Danticat, née Dantica, does not yet know of the earthquake in the writing of these pages, and indeed has no concern for whatever panoramic blips I've picked up about this country. Her country, for however long a time she has spent outside it, Haiti is where she was born, ...more
Sep 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Danticat hands you her story and walks away. Her writing style is stark here (my first time reading her); the facts are heavy, but she doesn't tug the reader one way or another or mandate sentiment. She relays her tale and then she is done. Damn. Very effective.

I thought most about "absence" on a few levels after finishing it. The literal absence of her parents and extended family at different periods of her life due to political strife and economic necessity. The unjustified absence of faith by
Leslie Reese
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
In Brother, I’m Dying Danticat tells the stories of her father, Andre (aka Mira), and his brother---her uncle, Joseph, who along with his wife, Denise, raised Edwidge and her brother in Haiti while their parents immigrated and worked to prepare to bring the family together in New York in the 1970s and early 1980s; and how, in 2004, she lost these two men--- her father to pulmonary fibrosis, while her uncle, a pastor, languished in a detention center in Miami after fleeing gang threats in Haiti a ...more
After reading a number of equally excellent books concerning daughters, mothers and grandmothers, it is great to read about the special connections between a daughter and her two fathers, for Edwidge Danticat's writes of both her father Mira, who left Haiti for New York when she was 2 years old - and her Uncle Joseph, who treated her like a daughters for those nine long years that followed before she and her brothers Bob were able to join their parents and the two new brothers that had arrived i ...more
Clif Hostetler
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
The author grabbed my attention with the first sentence:
"I found out I was pregnant the same day that my father’s rapid weight loss and chronic shortness of breath were positively diagnosed as end-stage pulmonary fibrosis."
This sentence let me know that the book was going to be about life, death and family relationships. It's also about the immigrant experience, Haitian political violence and cruel actions of ICE*.
*Immigration and Customs Enforcement

I was emotionally drawn into the story, an
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to know me better
I am not Haitian. But you will know me better if you read this, because the author has had such an influence on my passions and what I have studied. This book is biographical. I've read and own the 4 other major books written by Edwidge Danticat, and they are my most (and possibly only) lent books. If you ever wondered why I wrote so much about Haiti in college, take a read.

I don't know if I should recommend this book out of order from the other ones, or possibly if this should be the starting p
You often feel as if you can with stand anything until life hits you with the unexpected. Therefore, as I watch my father labor in what feels like the end stages of his illness, listening to Edwidge Danticat's story of her Uncle Joseph and father, Andre (neé Mira), battle through their own health scares a deep cord was struck within me.

With this memoir, Danticat manages to take her family's tragedy along with Haiti's ongoing political turmoil and magnificently pair it with her journey into moth
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Around the world readers
What a nice memoir of Danticat's uncle and father as well as recollection of her pregnancy and birth of her first child. Not in the mood for a depressing read,I was hesitant to listen to this book. It wasn't depressing. What it was was an excellent recounting of what it was like to live in Haiti during UN occupations and unstable governments, as well as a look at living in New York City or Miami when you are Haitian.

Danticat has an easy style. I found it refreshing after reading and listening t
Jeremy George
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Danticat may just be one of the best contemporary writers. Her perceptive critique of institutionalisation, race relations, and history as chronic and affecting structures was embedded into my brain, and pierced into my heart, as I followed her personal narrative of the loss of family, a culture of violence, and the desperation of powerlessness.
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is so wonderful. I loved this!

This is a family memoir, and links several story pieces together more cohesively than almost any novel I've read in ages. It's beautifully done. Partly it is about the author's growing up in Haiti at her uncle's house, before moving to the U.S. at twelve to be with her parents (c. 1980). And partly it is a chronicle of the year that her father and uncle died, and in which she gave birth to her first child (c. 2004). Each of these pieces is a worthwhile sto
steph ★彡
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir

im not crying you're crying

a very compelling and heartbreaking memoir about family and the hardships of immigration.

there's a very big difference between reading a fiction piece and a nonfiction memoir. i'm so used to analyzing character actions and thoughts as a conscious choice of the author but in nonfiction writing, i can't do that, bc everything actually happened. so it was a very jarring experience when i kept catching myself looking for motifs or symbolism, and i had to remind myse
Oct 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Wow. If I thought I couldn't possibly lose even more respect for this president, his administration, his Homeland Security, and his policies, I was wrong.

This book is yet another reason why we should be very angry and should really work for change in whatever way we can.

This is a very intimate book. By the end, you feel as though you should be coming over with food for the family. I had always known bits and pieces about Haitian history from my years studying the French language, but now I real
lark benobi
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Intelligent, thoughtful, and heartbreaking. A first-hand account of one man's ordeal, which illustrates in stark relief the way U.S. policies on immigration have combined with ignorance and systemic racism to cause untold suffering in Haitians. Danticat allows us to get to know her uncle in all his humanity and dignity before taking us step by step through his most terrible suffering and death at the hands of immigration officers. Most of this slim memoir is full of love and joy, even in the mid ...more
Laura Hoffman Brauman
On one level, this is a story of a family and their great love for each other. When Danticat was a child, her mother and father moved to the US from Haiti to build a new life for their family while their two children stayed with their aunt and uncle. Her Aunt Denise and Uncle Joseph cherished them and they were well loved for the ten years until they were able to join their parents in the US. The memoir opens on a day when Edwidge has gone to NYC to visit her father. She learns she is pregnant o ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel Lichtman Castaño
There are no words I could write that can adequately capture the substance of this book. Beautifully written, this book chronicles Edwidge's Danticat's life, and the lives and deaths of her father and uncle, but it is more than a simple biography. It focuses more on her uncle, a man she came to think of as her second father when she and her brother were left with him in Haiti so her parents could build a life in New York, and bring them to the United States. It is also a chronicle of a country i ...more
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
this book split my heart wide open. let the stars fall and also screw US immigration policy.
Amethyst Travis
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
So well writen and so devastatingly sad. Infuriating. Krome. How refugees are treated.😞
Seamus Ronan
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
"She was leaving my body and going into the world, where she would spend the rest of her life moving away from me."

Absolutely heartbreaking. But a wonderful introduction to Danticat's writing and a moving reflection on family, Haiti, and immigration policy.
May 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
I need to stop telling people "This is a book about a lady that grew up in Haiti with her uncle. Her uncle died, around the same time her father died, and she had a baby in between those times." (I'm not spoiling this for anybody; it says all of that stuff in the jacket of the book." I mean, that just sounds depressing, and overall, the book is not.

First of all, the book is really well written. Very simple language, but powerful. Characters, situations, feelings come across.

This was a book for
Courtney Payne
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book is devastatingly good. Especially once you get to the second half of the book. I caught myself holding my breath as I read. I just could not believe what I was reading. Danticat tells the story of her family so beautifully. The descriptions of her two sets of parents (her aunt and uncle raised her for some time in Haiti, when her parents came to America to get settled. She eventually moved to America, but many of her formative years were with her aunt and uncle.) This story mostly focu ...more
A respectfully written memoir that focuses on Edwidge's father and his brother. Her father and mother leave Haiti for a better life leaving Edwidge and her brother to be looked after by their uncle. It took 10 years for them to be reunited.
The more powerful thread revolves around the uncle - Joseph a pastor. He stays in Haiti, has cancer of the larynx and loses his voice box, is faced with the numerous changes of government, corruption, gang wars and international peace efforts. In the end when
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Danticat tells a very personal story here. And I am grateful that she did. She describes the profound love and connection that her family possesses and their movement between Haiti and the U.S. The latter is a prime example of the push-pull factors, the interdependency of variables, in immigration.

I am saddened to be reminded that U.S. immigration policy and those who enforce it were and are cruel and unfeeling. She portrays them in bleak terms but with her eye for meaning, and she does it with
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
After reading Kidder’s Mountain Beyond Mountain about Dr. Farmer, Brother I’m Dying was an eloquent and welcomed portrait of the life of one Haitian family. This book adds a third dimension to the sketch of Haiti we get from Farmer through Kidder. Danticat is no less than graceful in painting the full picture of living, loving and dying in her family all against the backdrop of a constantly flailing Haiti. This is a great book for college classrooms, book clubs, or well – anyone who loves their ...more
Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who thinks life has been unfair to THEM!
An extraordinary writer. She is able to convey the deepest emotions with the simplest words. The facts as they are are stunning enough and need no embellishment. The book moves quite quickly, as she doesn't feel the need to dissect every single moment in everyone's life as it pertains to her experience. This is a stirring tribute to her lineage and she should be proud. I was moved to tears by the dignity of her father and her uncle, even in the face of so much pain and grief. So many people give ...more
Nov 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The tale of two brothers, one in the United States, one in Haiti, is ultimately the gift from a daughter to her father. This remarkable story tells of the divergent paths the author’s father and brother journey down, impacted by their chosen country’s choices and changing fortunes. This is the quintessential immigrant story of love and exile and always present is respect for each man and the choices they made.
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
A memoir of the author's family in Haiti and US. Edwidge Danticat is an outstanding writer. I plan to read her other books when I have the time. She writes of the human side of Haiti's hardships and about Haitian immigrants to the US. Very well done.
Patricia Andre-Fadiran
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Elegantly written. Brutally honest. But heartfelt. And I almost shed some thug tears.

Being a child of Haitian immigrants, I can't image the struggle my grandfather and parents had to go through to become citizens.
Had to give this 5 stars for the culture. and for Barboncourt.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
She is a good writer and I slogged through this because I don't know much about Haiti.

I didn't feel she had much to say.
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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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30 likes · 21 comments
“It's not easy to start over in a new place,' he said. 'Exile is not for everyone. Someone has to stay behind, to receive the letters and greet family members when they come back.” 42 likes
“What I learned from my father and uncle, I learned out of sequence and in fragments. This is an attempt at cohesiveness, and at re-creating a few wondrous and terrible months when their lives and mine intersected in startling ways, forcing me to look forward and back at the same time. I am writing this only because they can’t.” 1 likes
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