Book: Brother, I'm Dying

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Book:

Brother, I'm Dying

Author: Edwidge Danticat
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Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

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 her parents left Haiti for a better life in America. Listening to his sermons, sharing coconut-flavored ices on their walks through town, roaming through the house that held together many members of a colorful extended family, Edwidge grew profoundly attached to Joseph. He was the man who “knew all the verses for love.”

And so she experiences a jumble of emotions when, at twelve, she joins her parents in New York City. She is at last reunited with her two youngest brothers, and with her mother and father, whom she has struggled to remember. But she must also leave behind Joseph and the only home she’s ever known.

Told with tremendous feeling, this is a true-life epic on an intimate scale: a deeply affecting story of home and family—of two men’s lives and deaths, and of a daughter’s great love for them both.

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 her 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 her parents left Haiti for a better life in America. Listening to his sermons, sharing coconut-flavored ices on their walks through town, roaming through the house that held together many members of a colorful extended family, Edwidge grew profoundly attached to Joseph. He was the man who “knew all the verses for love.”

And so she experiences a jumble of emotions when, at twelve, she joins her parents in New York City. She is at last reunited with her two youngest brothers, and with her mother and father, whom she has struggled to remember. But she must also leave behind Joseph and the only home she’s ever known.

Edwidge tells of making a new life in a new country while fearing for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorates. But Brother I’m Dying soon becomes a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. Late in 2004, his life threatened by an angry mob, forced to flee his church, the frail, eighty-one-year-old Joseph makes his way to Miami, where he thinks he will be safe. Instead, he is detained by U.S. Customs, held by the Department of Homeland Security, brutally imprisoned, and dead within days. It was a story that made headlines around the world. His brother, Mira, will soon join him in death, but not before he holds hope in his arms: Edwidge’s firstborn, who will bear his name—and the family’s stories, both joyous and tragic—into the next generation.

Told with tremendous feeling, this is a true-life epic on an intimate scale: a deeply affecting story of home and family—of two men’s lives and deaths, and of a daughter’s great love for them both.

Reviews

Barnes and Noble

After Edwidge Danticat’s parents left Haiti for America when she was four, she was left in the care of her uncle Joseph. It was a good choice. Her father’s older brother was a gentle man, a thoughtful caretaker, generous even in hard times. When little Edwidge left to be reunited with her parents in New York City eight years later, it was a bittersweet departure; her heart sank when she thought of being separated from her second father, the pastor who “knew all the verses for love.” Joseph stayed on in Haiti, ministering to his congregation, but as times grew worse, he was forced to flee to America in 2004. His story ends tragically. In Florida, he was first detained by U.S. Customs, then imprisoned by the Department of Homeland Security. Within days, the frail 81-year-old refugee was dead. Danticat’s soulful story brings him to life again. A moving memoir by the author of The Dew Breaker.

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