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Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,315 ratings  ·  173 reviews
"Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them." — Create Dangerously

In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art
ebook, 189 pages
Published September 19th 2010 by Princeton University Press (first published July 22nd 2010)
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J.L.   Sutton
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
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Edwidge Danticat's Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work is an engaging collection of essays that takes its cue from Albert Camus' Create Dangerously. Decades earlier, Camus wrote about the challenges and responsibilities of the artist. Danticat takes a personalized approach to this challenge emphasizing Haitian artists, the widespread devastation of the 2010 earthquake centered near Port-au-Prince, voices of the Haitian diaspora as well as Danticat's own experiences moving back and f
Leslie Reese
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After meeting Edwidge Danticat in March of this year, I decided that I wanted to read Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. (A title Danticat borrowed from Albert Camus as the title of her 2008 Toni Morrison Lecture delivered at Princeton University). A book of less than 200 pages, composed of 12 essays/chapters and a “postscript,” this book---published in 2010---is the ninth of Danticat’s published titles. It looks small and unassuming but---trust me---I am still meditating on its c ...more
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Inept is the word that immediately comes to mind when trying to "review" this book. Ms. Danticat's words, halting yet fluid, have borne upon me the beginnings of an understanding of a nation and its beleaguered people. I have no mechanism with which to comprehend the physical, political, emotional and spiritual devastation so many have endured, but my mind is now open, reset and forever changed by her deft and daring creation.

So many of the questions she asked herself (and others) are questions
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am always a little leery when a favorite writer publishes a collection of essays relying heavily on previously published work. Oftentimes, I am deeply dissatisfied. The material doesn't hold together, and I find that the writer has done disappointingly little work to update the material or to excise repetitions among the essays. This was not the case as I read Edwidge Danticat's new book, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. Danticat's collection is surprisingly fresh (almost ever ...more
Sophfronia Scott
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I wasn't sure if this book would speak to me since I'm not an immigrant artist as Danticat describes. But the more I read the more I realized she was not just speaking of writing from a place of danger and displacement. She's talking about the danger of going deep into one's own truth and creating fearlessly from that place. Since that is exactly what I seek to do as a writer I found this book inspiring and challenging. It encourages me to approach my work again and again with diligence ...more
LaToya Hankins
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book because of how she address her experiences as being a Haitian/writer/immigrant and how one identity often feeds another. Her commentary in "The Other Side of the Water" on going home to bury a cousin who she barely knew despite them both living in America and in "Walk Straight" about visiting a great aunt depicts a universal experience of how our family shapes our lives and how you never realize how little time you have with family until they are gone. "Our Guernica" puts a fa ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"And during this final conversation, I am even more certain that to create dangerously is also to create fearlessly, boldly embracing the public and private terrors that would silence us, then bravely moving forward even when it feels as thought we are chasing or being chased by ghosts... Creating fearlessly, like living fearlessly, even when a great tempest is upon you. Creating fearlessly even when cast lot bo dlo, across the seas. Creating fearlessly for people who see/watch/listen/read fearl
Jerry Pogan
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For several years there have been three writers who I considered my favorites, Sebastian Barry, Czeslaw Milosz and Anatole France. But in the last couple of years there are three young women who I now include in that group, Jesmyn Ward, Madeleine Thien and now Edwidge Danticat. I only discovered Danticat about 6 months ago when I read Krik! Krak! and I've been reading everything I can find of hers since. Each time I read one of her books I'm more and more impressed. This book of essays is absolu ...more
Justine Dymond
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I just started Danticat's new book, and I wanted to read aloud the first chapter through a loudspeaker in a van driving through the streets, like in the old-fashioned way politicians used to advertise their candidacies. I realize, though, that shouting it might not meet the spirit of her first chapter....but I think you get my point: everyone should read it. But, again, such a dictatorial mode would be antithetical to Danticat's message. And around and around I go....

The only problem with her bo
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This collection of essays is as delicate as it is powerful. Danticat has a sophisticated intelligence and a complete passion for her homeland. We do not have much in terms of glimpses into the troubled past and beautiful traditions of Haiti; Danticat's is a voice that crosses the water, that bridges the diasporic space between countries. ...more
Shirleen R
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cara Byrne
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Perhaps this America does have more in common with the developing world than with the one it inhabits. For the poor and outcast everywhere dwell within their own country, where more often than not they must fend for themselves. That's why one can so easily become a refugee within one's own borders - because one's perceived usefulness and precarious citizenship are always in question, whether in Haiti or in that other America, the one where people have no flood insurance" (111).

It took me month
Arelis Uribe
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Awesome, incredibly well written.
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, nonfic
I did not intend to read this book of essays so fast. I started it, thinking I'd read a couple essays here and there, maybe one before bed, but alas, I was engrossed. Danticat is not a historian or even a editorialist, yet I learned so much about Haiti and what it means to be a Haitian immigrant in the 21st century from her book. I probably would not have been as interested as I ended up being had I not already read most of Danticat's fiction. For fans of her novels and stories, this book is not ...more
Dec 12, 2014 added it
I thought this would serve as a unique writing muse or motivator and I also thought it would stem from a perspective accounting of varied immigrant viewpoints of multiple nationalities. It proved to be neither. Well-written, often beautiful and composed with a crispness that transports you, this is almost solely autobiographical and thus almost exclusively focused on Haiti and her perspective. So it was a letdown for me due to too casual a review of the back cover description, though it appeals ...more
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
“If we began to put plaques all over Port-au-Prince to commemorate deaths,” a friend had once told me when I’d pointed this out to him, “we would have room for little else.”


“In the tent clinic I say hello to Monica. She looks up at me and blinks but otherwise does not react. Her eyes are dimmed and it appears that she may still be in shock. To watch your house and neighborhood, your city, crumble, then to watch your father die, and then nearly to die yourself, all before your tenth birthday,
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stacie by: NPR
Create Dangerously is personal, philosophical and vivid. Edwidge Danticat explores the role of the immigrant writer through touching stories of her Haitian family and friends. As with any collection, some of the essays are more captivating than others. I was particularly drawn to her accounts about journalist and icon Jean Dominique, 9/11, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and her powerful essay about visiting Haiti weeks after the earthquake hit in 2010. Her tales give the reader a sense of her respo ...more
Zoe Xiuha
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Danticat's prose is beautiful, seamlessly weaving together personal narratives with historical ones, along with familial stories that fall somewhere in between the private and the public memory. The overall collection is thoughtfully curated so one essay flows easily into the next, each building off and evoking themes/memories of the previous pieces. As a reader I was often humbled by the international, intergenerational web of context Danticat develops throughout the collection, and was deeply ...more
Edwidge Danticat's essays are pieces of writing I am sure I will go back to again and again. The subtitle of the book "Immigrant Artist at Work" is the theme that runs throughout. Danticat describes the choice of a Haitian artist to reflect the misery of their homeland, and later the beauty, the repression of writers, and what it means to be a writer in a country where fewer than half the population are literate. Danticat's title "create dangerously" comes from Camus, and she refers throughout h ...more
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book for writers especially to read. If you care anything about what you do as an artist -- how you represent, you will appreciate this collection of Danticat's essays. It is a smooth, engaging read. ...more
May 27, 2011 marked it as to-read
Fiercely intelligent and achingly beautiful.

Once again, my local librarian has anticipated my reading urges before I am even aware of them...I applaud her book buying sensibility.
Rianna Jade
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'll gladly return to this again and again. ...more
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent collection of essays about art, responsibility, repression, and justice.
Architecture is supposed to solve problems, and the 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio was bent on problem-solving. Harmony was the foundation to his structures. He insisted houses not be built around stagnant water. This design wasn't simply for aesthetic purposes but turned out to be incredibly practical and hygienic as well. Architecture is not only a source of spatial poetry but, in this sense, the discipline saves lives as well. Literature for better or worse, doesn't quite work ...more
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved the way this book wove together stories about artists in exile from their home countries and stories about the inspiration for their art. Danticat is an excellent and expressive Haitian-American writer who knows whereof she speaks. “Perhaps this is why the immigrant artist needs to feel that he or she is creating dangerously even though she is not scribbling on prison walls or outing the days until a fateful date with an executioner. Or a hurricane. Or an earthquake. Self-doubt is probab ...more
Andres Eguiguren
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Danticat was one of three Haitian writers recommended by The New York Times after Trump's disparaging words about this Caribbean island-nation earlier this month (January 2018). I am glad I looker her up, as I realized that the only other reading I had done about Haiti was Graham Greene's The Comedians, which I read more than 30 years ago, and one of the chapters in Jared Diamond's Collapse.

Danticat moved to the U.S. at the age of 12, the same age I was when I moved there, so her words on the im
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Master writer Edwidge Danticat has written a searing and gorgeously rendered series of personal vignettes and essays as part of the late great Toni Morrison's lecture series from Princeton University. Ms. Danticat writes, "we cannot afford to curse or avoid these exits and migrations, because they have earned us whatever type of advancement we have made" (Danticat 35). Ms. Danticat writes about being an exile from her beloved Haiti, of writing "dangerously" to expose the truth, and brutal indign ...more
Graham Wilhauk
This was fantastic. Despite there being about two or three chapters that were just "ok," this book gave some of the most thought-provoking commentary I've come across in a WHILE. I've learned SO much in this book as I annotated the entire thing and made notes. At the university I'm attending, the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!), this is the common book that the incoming freshman are reading and discussing the first few days on campus. After reading this book and learning SOOOOOOOO much about ...more
Li Yen
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Edwidge Danticat's beautiful writing showed me the danger of using one's own voice to speak up and stand in solidarity with our cultural past and present struggles, and then doing it anyway. Her reflections as a daughter of two kingdoms; one of biological heritage and the other of adopted nationality run through the common thread of identity and belonging, compelling readers to engage the immigrant artist's perspective and the importance of their work in the midst of natural disasters, coup d'et ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was an excellent read. I’m very glad I read it. It’s a collection of pieces meditating on Haiti, the artist’s life, and the people she knows. There are many, many thoughtful words on the power of storytelling that makes one think of how you tell a story. Her writing invites you into the experience of life and death in real ways in the world - in places we are often too frightened or too unaware to go. Through her storytelling she makes one see a whole new world. I’m very grateful for this boo ...more
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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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41 likes · 10 comments
“One of the advantage of being an immigrant is that two very different countries are forced to merge within you. The language you were born speaking and the one you will probably die speaking have no choice but to find a common place in your brain and regularly merge there.” 6 likes
“The immigrant artist shares with all other artists the desire to interpret and possibly remake his or her own world. So though we may not be creating as dangerously as our forebears—though we are not risking torture, beatings, execution, though exile does not threaten us into perpetual silence— still, while we are at work bodies are littering the streets somewhere. People are buried under rubble somewhere. Mass graves are being dug somewhere. Survivors are living in makeshift tent cities and refugee camps somewhere, shielding their heads from the rain, closing their eyes, covering their ears, to shut out the sounds of military “aid” helicopters. And still, many are reading, and writing, quietly, quietly.” 4 likes
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