March 07, 2011

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Noted Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, who has been honored with the MacArthur Genius Award and other top honors for her writing and work on behalf of Haiti, will give a talk on Tuesday, April 12, as part of the ongoing Bucknell Forum series, "Creativity: Beyond the Box."

Her talk, "Create Dangerously: An Evening with Edwidge Danticat," will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building at Bucknell University. It is free and open to the public and will be followed by a book signing.

Danticat, who was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was 12, has been praised as one of America's finest young writers since her 1994 debut work, Breath, Eyes, Memory. "A silenced Haiti has once again found its literary voice," author Paule Marshall said of Danticat.

Her most recent work, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (Princeton University Press, 2010), is a deeply personal book, reflecting on art and exile and examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis.

Inspired by Albert Camus' lecture, "Create Dangerously," and combining memoir and essay, Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself, who create despite, or because of, the horrors that drove them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them. She also suggests that the aftermaths of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States reveal that the countries are not as different as many Americans might like to believe.

Debut novel
Danticat's first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory (Soho Press, 1994) was an Oprah Book Club selection. It relates the culture shock of Sophie Coco, a 12-year-old Haitian girl who is summoned to New York by her mother to help provide for the family back home.

"Though her tale is permeated with a haunting sadness, Danticat also imbues it with color and magic, beautifully evoking the pace and character of Creole life, the feel of both village and farm communities," Publishers Weekly said in a review. "In simple, lyrical prose enriched by an elegiac tone and piquant observations, she makes Sophie's confusion and guilt, her difficult assimilation into American culture and her eventual emotional liberation palpably clear."

Prolific award-winning author
Danticat, who has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award, is the author of several books. Krik? Krak! (Soho Press, 1995) is a collection of 10 stories honored as a National Book Award finalist. The Farming of Bones (Viking Penguin, 1999), an American Book Award winner, relates the early days of persecution of Haitians by Dominicans. The Dew Breaker (Alfred K. Knopf, 2004) is the tale of a former torturer making a new life in Brooklyn.

Her autobiographical Brother, I'm Dying (Knopf, 2007) 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. Eight Days: A Story of Haiti (Orchard Books, 2010) is the uplifting story of Junior, a boy who uses his imagination for comfort while being trapped for eight days beneath his collapsed house after an earthquake.

Danticat also writes regularly for The New Yorker, most recently chronicling the loss of her cousin and her travels to Haiti following the island nation's earthquake more than a year ago.

Creative contributions
Danticat earned a degree in French literature from Barnard College, where she won the 1995 Woman of Achievement Award, and an MFA from Brown University. She has taught creative writing at New York University and the University of Miami and is 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.

She also has worked with filmmakers Patricia Benoit and Jonathan Demme on Haitian art projects and documentaries about Haiti. Her short stories have appeared in more than 25 periodicals and have been anthologized several times. Her work has been translated into numerous other languages including French, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.

The Bucknell Forum
Since 2007, the Bucknell Forum speakers series has featured nationally renowned leaders, scholars and commentators who have examined various issues from multi-disciplinary perspectives and a diversity of viewpoints. || Previous series events

The "Creativity: Beyond the Box" series task force comprises faculty members Carmen Gillespie, Beth Capaldi Evans, Paula Davis, Joe Tranquillo, Margot Vigeant and Zhiqun Zhu; students Michael Davis, Class of '13, and Lindsay Machen, Class of '11; and administrators Rob Springall and Pete Mackey, chair.

Contact: Division of Communications