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Krik? Krak!

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At an astonishingly young age, Edwidge Danticat has become one of our most celebrated new writers. She is an artist who evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti--and the enduring strength of Haiti's women--with a vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people's suffering and courage.

When Haitians tell a story, they say "Krik?" and the eager listeners answer "Krak!" In Krik? Krak! Danticat establishes herself as the latest heir to that narrative tradition with nine stories that encompass both the cruelties and the high ideals of Haitian life. They tell of women who continue loving behind prison walls and in the face of unfathomable loss; of a people who resist the brutality of their rulers through the powers of imagination. The result is a collection that outrages, saddens, and transports the reader with its sheer beauty.

224 pages, Paperback

First published April 1, 1996

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About the author

Edwidge Danticat

138 books2,410 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 Beacon Best of 2000: Great Writing by Men and Women of All Colors and Cultures.

Danticat earned a degree in French Literature from Barnard College, where she won the 1995 Woman of Achievement Award, and later an MFA from Brown University. She lives in Miami with her husband and daughters.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 789 reviews
Profile Image for Kat.
263 reviews79.5k followers
October 9, 2020
***read for women in lit course***

my favorite stories here were children of the sea, a wall of fire rising, and caroline's wedding. But, the collection as a whole was really powerful and full of stories that weave together well. would definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Rowena.
500 reviews2,463 followers
February 12, 2014
“These were our bedtime stories. Tales that haunted our parents and made them laugh at the same time. We never understood them until we were fully grown and they became our sole inheritance.”- Edwidge Danticat, “Krik? Krak!”

This selection of short stories was absolutely amazing. Heartbreaking, but brilliant. We see Haiti through different eyes, each pair experiencing a lot of pain and loss. Even with the knowledge that I have of Haiti’s horrific history, what Danticat wrote (using vignettes told from the point of view of various characters) still managed to shock me. In that way, I feel Danticat illuminates Haiti’s painful history the way Toni Morrison highlights slavery in “Beloved.”

The stories were separate yet created a larger picture spread over decades. There’s a lot of heartbreak in these tales. The one that touched me the most was “Children of the Sea”, which featured a story about Haitian refugees trying to make it to Miami in boats. It’s obvious that this is a difficult and risky feat but have we considered the psychological issues and the everyday constraints that the migrants have to deal with? I hadn’t, Danticat obviously had. That’s one of the many things l like about fiction; being given the opportunity to think about something that would probably have never crossed my mind otherwise.That scene really created a lot more empathy in me:

“Sometimes, I forget where I am. If I keep daydreaming like I have been doing, I will walk off the boat to go for a stroll.”

The whole book was very much alive for me due to Danticat’s superior writing. Her narrative just flows and manages to incorporate so much; history, relationships, superstition, culture, and so on with such honesty and clarity.

This is a complex book that made me think of how it is that one can love their homeland so much, yet at the same time realize there is so much ugliness present, embarrassing stuff at that.Judging from Danticat’s writing, that doesn’t mean one loves their country any less.

Definitely a rewarding read. Hopefully more books like this are read so people can have more empathy for migrants.
Profile Image for Brown Girl Reading.
349 reviews1,591 followers
August 24, 2016
I’d never heard the words Kirk? Krak! and wondered what they meant when I picked this book up. Reading the back cover, I learned that storytellers say Krik? and listeners say Krak! in Haiti. Krik? Krak! is a poetic collection of connected short stories that explores the Haitian community in the United States and in Haiti. https://browngirlreading.com/2016/08/...
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,560 followers
January 15, 2020
The sort of short stories that novelists envy. Danticat writes with such fury, with such purpose--about a topic neither you or I are acquainted with! (Well, maybe I don't know you too much, do I?)

Haiti. The last time I gave this country a lick of thought was when I explained to my niece how zombies are made. I am sooo horrid! Just like the orange infant in the White House--unaware, HAPPY to be ignorant of, places other than here.

That the book begins with an epistolary of two different souls, never to be reunited (is my thought)... We will never know what these people had to endure in Haiti, then the U.S. Some people suffer and suffer & suffer... & our own lives never looked better! Her prose is masterful--the tales are solid and (mostly) tragic (which is very hard to pull off, since melodrama is so easy to fall into).

I encourage you to read it. Yep YOU.
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,305 reviews750 followers
April 27, 2016
Everyone knows what the baseline reader is. The body is abstract, the habits of the norm, the names of a conventional origin, the hierarchy unquestioned. To get a hint of the opposite, look at which covers are commissioned for thematic design and which consist of bodies and cultural artifacts. You'll learn about the blackened butterfly of this cover through one of the stories, as well as about the lives of the women that fit the archetype of my alternative cover that the digitized edition does not currently show. A portrait of the author, perhaps? Certainly not of the intended readership. She, with locs and bronze all woven through, is not the socioeconomic poster child of the marketer's design.

The majority of lauded books are written for a mere ten percent of the population of the globe, and the biggest con of capitalism and cultural domination was to call such tomes universal. To subvert such persistent gall requires continual regrounding of what is the usual, what is granted, what is the destiny and what is the choice. No, accommodated reader, you are not white. No, communicated reader, you are not male. No, handheld reader, your world is not of free suburbia but of heritage, revolution on one side and massacre on the other, tales on the kitchen stove and Icarus in the shanty, where liberty and death become far more complicated when the fire has been rising for nine hundred ninety-nine generations and counting. Women come and women go, and there is no telling in this shifting scape of love and loss when a turn around the corner will bring to life a familiar face, when looking back requires a loss forever.

It's easy enough to look Haiti up in the history books and Danticat up in the halls of literary excellence and mix the two together to get a prelude of what is to come from a writer who concerns herself with the death of infants in her homeland and all lost in transit so that they may live. She is not that lazily thrown about enforcement of 'universal', nor can that term be applied to any work in this era of broadcasting the tippy top to the world and calling it the modern normality. She is, however, to those sick of tailor-made literary expectations and open to theories of literature forever on the knife edge of then and now and what is to come, worth reading.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,049 followers
May 15, 2012
Beautifully written stories, featuring women in difficult lives. I particularly enjoyed the epilogue, "Women Like Us," that has a sense of a recited poem to it.

I had selected a pile of books set in various Caribbean places to read when I was in the Caribbean, so it was interesting to end up reading Krik? Krak! while I was in the Bahamas. A recurring theme throughout these stories is how Bahamians treat Haitians cruelly. Just a few islands away!

"They treat Haitians like dogs in the Bahamas, a woman says. To them, we are not human. Even though our music sounds like ours. Their people look like ours. Even though we had the same African fathers who probably crossed these same seas together."

"We know people by their stories."
This is true. I'd like to read more of Danticat, particularly post-earthquake.

"Are there women who both cook and write? Kitchen poets, they call them. They slip phrases into their stew and wrap meaning around their pork before frying it. They make narrative dumplings and stuff their daughter's mouths so they say nothing more."
Profile Image for Darkowaa.
164 reviews371 followers
August 22, 2015
!!! blog review: http://africanbookaddict.com/2015/08/...

I really liked this! It was the perfect summer read, especially since most of the short stories in this collection take place in Haiti - the island with the indigo blue skies and the sandy beaches. It is very evident that Danticat wrote this from her heart and I felt her love for her island in every story. My fave stories were: Children of the Sea (tender tale of two lovers separated by political violence and the sea) ; Between the Pool and the Gardenias (crazy story! I was shocked while reading this! Loved it) ; The Missing Peace (I always love a story with a precocious, brave girl in it) ; Caroline's Wedding (This was interesting...I adored the sisterhood between Caroline and Gracina. The mother in the story irked me- she was such a debbie-downer, but I understand why) ; Epilogue: Women Like Us (Great ending. I'm guessing this is a true 'story' on the struggle Danticat went through with convincing her family that she wanted to become a writer instead of the stereotypical role of a great housewife or cook which women in her family prided themselves with).
I like that I learned a bit about Haiti and the hardships it has faced and how it has affected its citizens. I'm definitely going to google some stuff from the book to learn more - like the coup d'etat it faced, Papa Doc Duvalier (ex-president Francois Duvalier) etc. I hope to read more Danticat in the future!
Profile Image for BookOfCinz.
1,402 reviews2,351 followers
April 17, 2018
April 2018
This was an interesting re-read for me because based on the review below, I didn't enjoy it too much the first time. Eight years later, I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. I love how each story reads like a book and how engaging the characters are. Some of my favorite stories were:
Children of the Sea
A Wall of Fire Rising
Between the Pool and the Gardenias
Seeing things Simply
New York Day Women
Caroline Wedding
Women Like Us

First book by Danticat and I am intrigued. I liked the book but I didn’t love it, even though it had all the elements of a great book. It was set in the Caribbean, written by a Caribbean author and mostly women were at the center piece of the stories. I liked the very first story, because it gave the Krik Krak appeal, where there were two narrators telling two stories, I thought it would be like that throughout the book, it wasn’t.

Aside from that, a good read.
Profile Image for Kiran Bhat.
Author 11 books188 followers
September 5, 2020
One of the books that got me into reading when I was much younger. Krik? Krak! is poetic, raw, simple to read, and fills you with emotion. It's great if you want something that bites but doesn't push you too far. Danticat is a very raw voice, and while she's not a timeless genius, she fills you a lot as you read her. Great for fans of Jhumpa Lahiri, but who want to read something from a different cultural context.
Profile Image for Deepthi.
38 reviews2 followers
August 15, 2007
I remember when I was in high school, Edwidge Danticat was one of the new rising literary stars who was getting a lot of attention. It's nice to come back to this collection of short stories and realize that it was completely justified. Krik? Krak! is that rare collection which feels like a novel in its own right -- each story is not only a perfect gem on its own, but connects thematically to the rest of the stories to create a greater whole. The stories are linked by a network of metaphors an grounded in two geographic locations--Ville Rose in Haiti and New York in America.

Some stories focus on figures who are sickeningly familiar in their rages and frustrations in the midst of violence and poverty. These stories tend to work with less conventional storytelling techniques which help keep the tension alive in the story. Other stories are gloriously original, and offer voices that are perhaps finding their way into print for the first time ever. Throughout the collection, Haitian culture is the centerpiece, with stories that focus on intracultural relations as well as those that investigate how Haitian perspectives interact with European or American ones.
Profile Image for Leah.
72 reviews8 followers
August 10, 2018
I absolutely loved these heartbreaking and poignant short stories. Brava, Edwidge!
Profile Image for Laurens.
110 reviews7 followers
January 21, 2018
Mein Gott, dit was zoveel sterker en pittiger dan ik verwacht had. o mein Goethe. Dit is hoe Alice Munro zou hebben geschreven als ze Creools was in plaats van Canadees.
Krik? Krak! zijn de verhalen van verschillende generaties Haïtiaanse vrouwen, die vooral worstelen met moederschap (of dochterschap) en de noodzaak tot emigratie (maar dit niet altijd doen). Alle verhaalmoeders blijken tot dezelfde familie te horen, allemaal mislukt of onderdrukt op een eigen manier, en dat is nou juist het beste aan dit boek. In veel verhalen worden even casual oude generaties herinnerd en ze lijken meer op elkaar dan ze zouden willen.
Acht briljante verhalen en één zwaar disturbing verhaal, maar ook dat maakt een goede auteur.
Profile Image for Stephy Simon.
168 reviews18 followers
January 14, 2021
Krik? Krak! is a collection of entwined short stories about Haitians, especially Haitian women. 

I came across this book while looking for books based on Haiti. The title caught all my attention, strange words that sound funny. Only after I started reading the book did I find that there is nothing funny in it. 

Through the stories, Danticat gives the readers a glimpse of the pain that Haitians suffered due to the complicated politics. Individually the stories cover some particular characters and their traumatic experiences. These stories cover everything from the miserable life in Haiti to the adventurous fleeing to other nations and life as an immigrant. The collection as a whole gives the feel of a novel that covers all the shades of the hardships that Haitians bored. For someone like me, who knows nothing much about Haiti and its history, this book would serve as an incredible start.  

The stories are heartbreaking, but Danticat crafted it in such a way that it's hard to stop yourself from getting immersed in it. The snippets of Haitian culture, tradition, and superstitions added to the beauty of the stories. Last but not least is the poetic, well-turned language; I don't have enough words to express how I loved the writing style. 

My Rating    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Profile Image for Andrea Siso.
12 reviews16 followers
March 8, 2012
Danticat offers a beautiful rendering of Haitian life, in a novel that utterly evokes the many shades of suffering. Tears, the author demonstrates, are life. Tears are words. Tears heal the pains of the past. Stylistically, I feel that Danticat implemented a structure that absolutely suits her writing--there are separate strands of stories, implying the individuality of angst and emotion; yet these parts are unified by being braided together by the commonality of vibrant Haitian culture and beliefs.
The language Danticat employs is stirring, moving, and highly effective in conveying Haitian culture and ideals. Her striking diction invited me to intimately experience the texturally rich and nuanced Haiti through this nation's effects upon each character.
What made this book so resounding, to me, was the sincerity and the clear genuine nature of Danticat's writing. I felt that "Krik? Krak!" expressed the author's soul, without artifice or distance. It was raw, and therefore honest and alive.
I hope to derive inspiration from "Krik? Krak!" and apply it to my writing. Danticat has shown me that there is power in culture, as long as it is voiced.
Profile Image for Lekeisha The Booknerd.
929 reviews106 followers
March 2, 2020
Whenever I read stories from Haiti, I learn a little bit more. No, I don't think I'll ever fully understand the country's history or its people's lives, but I love that I get to know it a little. This collection is beautiful, even when the stories are anything but. Krik? Krak! is some poetic justice for the people of Haiti. Love this!!
Profile Image for DeAnna Knippling.
Author 162 books258 followers
June 16, 2020
Heartrending, elegant short stories from a Haitian-American woman, spanning both lands.

This is one of the best-written books I've ever read. Lush and gorgeous, tales that read more like myth than any fantasy story can do. Incredibly well grounded.

Profile Image for Sajal  Shrestha.
10 reviews11 followers
March 8, 2012
Krik? Krak! is a collection of stories that mainly highlights the negative consequences of Haiti’s complicated history of violence and power struggles through the stories of lives of ordinary Haitians. All the characters that are given shape in this book suffer in some ways directly from the complicated politics within Haiti that has led to mass murdering and countless sufferings. On a deeper level, Krik? Krak! also underscores the important question imposed on citizens of all developing countries that is, whether it is betrayal to leave behind one’s motherland in search of happiness and better opportunities outside? Many characters within the story face with the similar dilemma of loving Haiti because it’s their motherland and hating it because of its never ending troubles and its brutality. Krirk? Krak! also highlights the cost of political uncertainty through the pain and suffering it brings to one’s loved ones. Through personalized stories of characters and how they suffer from the tough conditions within Haiti, the author provides a visceral experience of such pain to the readers. Apart from the well-crafted political plotlines, Danticat’s brilliant writing ability to portray her characters, the victims of Haitian political upheaval, in such a way that their pain is closely felt by the readers themselves is very impressive. The scenes she develops in the story, whether be of a lover writing a letter to his love whom he may never see again or a mother who prostitutes herself away while her son sleeps in the corner of the same room, seems so visceral while reading that it feels as if the readers are present in the scene themselves. “My son's bed stays nestled against the corner, far from the peeking jalousies. Furthermore, her unique perspective of being a Haitian woman herself shines in the genuine characters and the plausible plots she develops. All in all, it is one of those few books that really made me feel the emotions that the writer was attempting to express through her beautiful words.
Profile Image for Ryan.
987 reviews
August 19, 2011
"The Groom's Still Waiting at the Alter" is one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, but it's on one of his worst albums. So I rarely recommend it. Nevertheless, it's a great single and it can exist independently of the album (Shot of Love) on greatest hits albums, live albums, and even as a single song downloaded from iTunes, Amazon, or a Torrent. You could probably find it on youtube.

If only short stories had it so easy. They don't even get radio play, for one thing, and few make it to anthologies, let alone "greatest hits" collections.

Danticat could use a model like that. In Krik? Krak!, she tells stories centered around life in Haiti and life for Haitians that live in America. There's a lack of consistency that we can complain about in this collection, but there are some amazing singles.

The best story is almost certainly the opening, "Children of the Sea." The voice alone is enough for readers to drown in, and the story is even better. There are two perspectives. The first is a man on a ship that we later learn is sinking. The second is his lover, left behind to face violent civil unrest in Haiti. This is compelling reading.

In another story, a man realizes that there is no hope for his life. He will never do anything in Haiti other than waiting in line for a job cleaning toilets. However, he thinks that he could fly a hot air balloon. Sadly, it's easier to take off than it is to land and his solution makes for a powerful ending.

Unfortunately, I was otherwise disappointed with many of these stories. Perhaps Danticat should have arranged the story order differently. I found that my expectations were set incredibly high after reading "Children of the Sea" and the rest of the collection just couldn't keep up.

But as a single, what a success "Children of the Sea" would have been.
March 8, 2012
in Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat successfully defines Haitian identity through various young women in different short stories by telling of their hardships and struggles. This novel is harrowing and at the same time uplifting because reading of these women's lives is humbling to anyone who has only ever known freedom, yet their strength and determination to attain true freedom lifts the reader up. Krik? Krak! embodies the strength of the Haitian identity through women. Cold reality told with stylistically engaging, captivating language makes this text beautiful in terms of literary value as well as cultural value. An award winning author, Danticat's Krik? Krak! is revolutionary to its time as well as its region.
For me, Krik? Krak! was a novel that I could not stop reading. Danticat ties all of her short stories together by reusing traditional Haitian names as well as emphasizing certain similarities native to the Haitian identity that span between several characters. Krik? Krak! is a good read for anyone looking to read something that will radically change the way they view the region as well as his or her own life.
Profile Image for Sophie.
312 reviews14 followers
January 4, 2010
She then gave me the pillow, my mother's pillow. It was open, half-filled with my mother's hair. Each time they shaved her head, my mother had kept the hair for her pillow. I hugged the pillow against my chest, feeling some of the hair rising in clouds of dark dust into my nostrils. -48

She nearly didn't marry him because it was said that people with angular hairlines often have very troubled lives. -65

He always slaps the mosquitoes dead on his face without even waking. In the morning, he will have tiny blood spots of his forehead, as though he had spent the whole night kissing a woman with wide-open flesh wounds of her face. -84

You have to save every piece of flesh and give it a name and bury it near the roots of a tree so that the world won't fall apart. -93

It's so easy to love somebody, I tell you, when there's nothing else around. -96

Most of the women in your life had their heads down. They would wake up in the morning to find their panties gone. -223

Profile Image for Sophie.
594 reviews32 followers
June 15, 2018
This is a collection of heart-wrenching stories which take place in Haiti and New York. My favorite part was the Epilogue:women Like Us. It is about keeping stories alive for generation; about the need to put them down so they can continue.
Profile Image for Maya.
5 reviews8 followers
July 19, 2020
A haunting and beautifully written collection of short stories! Managed to capture the pain of memory & intergenerational trauma and of the healing that comes with loving. Love love loved this book.
Profile Image for Jesus Flores.
2,004 reviews38 followers
February 9, 2023
Krik Krak

Coleccion cuentos sobre Haiti y sobre Haitianos en USA.

Empieza con un cuento fuerte, por un lado un grupo de Haitianos en un bote en el mar huyendo, y por otro alguien en Haiti viendo las represalias, entre ellas una que si te hacer dudar de la humanidad.
Otro sobre una mujer en prisión y las visitas de su hija, desagarrador
A wall of fire raising, sobre un hombre, un globo aerostatico, la libertad, un cuento con un mensaje para pensar
Nightwomen, sobre el amor de una madre a su hijo, y la forma de proteger su inocencia en esa profesión.
Between the pool and the gardenias, sobre una massacre en el rio frontera con Republica Dominicana, fuerte.
The missing peace, sobre el nuevo y el antiguo régimen, y sobre cómo es lo mismo, y como mantenerse a pesar de.
Seeing things simply, este es el que más me gusto, y no sé porque, la trama parece sencilla, una pintora y su modelo, pero las pocas veces que hablan sobre la identidad, sobre la posteridad, sobre la esencia de que se es, y de alguna forma me llego mucho más de lo que esperaba.

Los siguientes 3 cuentos, son más sobre la vida de los Haitianos que logran escapar y vivir en USA, ese querer mantener sus tradiciones, ese mantenerse informados sobre lo que sigue ocurriendo, también un poco la culpa del sobreviviente, son interesantes, y creo que ayudan a cerrar el libro en un tono menos trágico.

Me gusto el cuento epilogo, creo sobre la autora y como tuvo que romper con esa barrera tradicional, que le decía, las mujeres de Haití no escriben.

De promedio me da 4.16 estrellas, pero creo que si lo subiré.

5 stars
Profile Image for L Y N N.
1,316 reviews70 followers
October 9, 2021
I could appreciate the emphasis on the "old ways" of doing things in Haiti and how those are overlooked/ignored by immigrant's children as they adjust to and adapt societal norms and culture from the U.S. This rather reminded me of Jhumpa Lahiri's books in that way. Although I must say some of the more violent and sexual metaphors disrupt the narrative for me. There weren't many, but in one story cock fights were described and though not in much detail, just the thought of those sickens me, so it was my own personal trigger that turned me off on that story. Very interesting collection and I assume an accurate portrayal of Haiti's culture.
Profile Image for Kamila Kunda.
266 reviews210 followers
February 17, 2021
Edwidge Danticat balances gracefully between what needs to be told and what benefits from being only alluded to. “Krik? Krak!”, one of her most famous collection of short stories, is a wonderful repository of hopes and dreams, pain and grief, desires and restraints of ordinary Haitians, united by the wish to live in a better world.

The stories are set in Haiti and the US, in the Haitian community building their lives far away from home. They reminded me, in a way, of Adichie’s “The Thing Around Your Neck”, Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies” or Li’s “Thousand Years of Good Prayers” - all were written between the end of the 1990s and the first decade of 2000s. Danticat may be the most subtle, most elusive author among all of them. I remember when I was in Okinawa, on tiny Taketomi island, where some grains of sand are star-shaped. I sifted the grains between my fingers looking for these special ones, minuscule stars. Reading Danticat’s stories felt like sifting grains of sand. Ordinary at the first glance, they reveal their brilliance and elegance once you devote them your time and full attention. My favourite, the first in the collection, “Children of the Sea” is also the most poetic and devastating one.

I admire Danticat for dressing commonality in beautiful fabrics. For the ability to bend over feelings and thoughts many people would overlook. For showing them with such grace and dignity to her readers. “Krik? Krak!” was my first meeting with this quietly powerful author but not the last one.
7 reviews7 followers
March 8, 2012
Krik? Krak! is a stunning collection of short stories that describe the experience of Haitian women during the political turmoil and chaos of Haiti in the twentieth century. At times I found the book difficult to read because the stories were so graphically brutal and painful, but I believe it is a must read for anyone who would like to better understand the complexities of Haitian historical memory. I thought it was especially interesting that Danticat included the stories of women who live in the United States and struggle to reconcile their heritage of anguish with their new lives.

Danticat did an excellent job of communicating the beauty and grace of Haitian women amongst so much pain and suffering. The poetic language and imagery are intense and I felt like they really transported me into the realm of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who are fascinated by the cycle of violence in Haiti and how Haitians cope with this legacy through storytelling.
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