Ryan Mishap's Reviews > Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat
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's review
Nov 19, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: on-writing, personal-writing

"I have little regard for an art that deliberately aims to shock because it is unable to convince."--Camus

"I used to fear [my parents] reading my books, worried about disappointing them. My stories do not hold a candleto having lived under a dictatorship for most of your adult life, to having your neighbors disappear and not being able even to acknowledge it, to being forced to act as though these neighbors had never existed at all. Reading, and perhaps ultimately writing, is nothing like living in a place and time where two very young men are killed in a way that is treated like entertainment."

Edwidge Danticat is referring to an execution that took place in Haiti under the Duvalier regime, an event that took place before her birth but one that affected her life, deaths emblematic of Haiti's troubles and that seem to demand that artists "create dangerously", in Camus' phrase. These essays are not only powerful inquiries into what is the role of art in a world of horrors, where the responsibilities of the writer lie, how immigrant artists struggle with being between two worlds, but they also serve as poignant (if short) memoirs and glimpses of Haiti's past and current predicament.

I read quite a bit, and a large portion of those books could be considered, at best, commercial products little different from television shows. There's no crime in having fun and simply enjoying a story, but I also believe in literature that has meaning and a weight that can tip the world--or at least the reader. Everything around us is a story--misspelled words on Twitter, school text books, the action's of one's parents, films, songs, friends talking, adverts, everything--and those stories play a large part in shaping our worldview, experience, and future actions. We need to be able to read all these stories ethically (you've read Shaped By Stories by now haven't you?), but we also need stories that reflect painful truths, the joys of connection with other people, reveal injustice, and stand for a way of living that could lead to a world we want to live in.

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