“Krik? Krak!” by Edwidge Danticat (1996)
Genre: African-American, Fiction, Short Stories
Page Length: 224 pages
When Haitians tell a story, they say “Krik?” and the eager listeners answer “Krak!” In Krik? Krak! In her second novel, Edwidge 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. (description from Goodreads)
*Since this is a book of short stories, I’ll be giving a small synopsis and share my thoughts on each story.
Children of The Sea:
This is story of a boy and girl who love each other and end up separated during a time of political unrest. In order to communicate with each other they write imaginary letters to each other in order to stay connected to each other.
I enjoyed the pace of the story and switch of narratives. Even though the boy is at sea and the girl is at home, they keep each other in their thoughts and promise to never forget about each other. Though the letters won’t physically be sent, they act as a source of therapy for the two to get out their emotions on paper.
A young woman/girl’s mom was accused of witchcraft and was sentenced to life in prison. The girl visits her mom in prison and struggles watching her wither away behind bars.
This one was so-so for me and I wasn’t 100% sure what was going on at some parts of the story. I noticed that there is symbolism in this story and the other used to represent themes such as the cruelties of Haitian life used throughout book. It speaks volumes about a mother’s love.
A Wall of Fire Rising:
I read this incredible powerful short story back in a college English class. It tells the story of a family that struggles to make ends meet. The main character Guy, has a son who has landed a lead role in the play. His son’s lines incite his father to chase his dreams.
This story says a lot about Haitian life as Guy feels trapped by the lack of finding a job, having food to feed his family. It’s very sad and as you read it you truly sympathize with his plight and sorrow.
A story about a woman and her son. She works as a “night woman” in order to provide for her son, all the while protecting him from the job she has in order to keep his childhood innocence.
A very short, but melancholy story. I know how hard this life must be for the mother and I admire her for the lengths she goes to in order to care for her son and give him the best life she can.
New York Day Women:
A woman trails her mother through the streets of Brooklyn. Her mother really isn’t the type to get dressed up and go out, so she wonders where her mother is traveling to.
I actually found this story to be a bit bland. It didn’t really grab my attention as much as the other stories and I it was just so-so. I felt a lack of connection to the story’s protagonist.
This was the longest story in this collection of stories. The protagonist’s younger sister (Caroline) is getting married, and the mother feels that she is losing Caroline as she is starting to break away from tradition.
One of my top favorite stories in this book! The long length of the story gave more time for me to get acquainted with the characters, and I felt like the plot was more developed. This is a good story that deals with the theme of tradition as well as the bond between mother and daughter.
Between The Pod and Gardenia:
A woman finds a baby along the road and decides to take it in and raise it as her own child.
This was probably the most heart-wrenching story in the book. Once the reader realizes what’s happening you deeply sympathize with the protagonist.
The Missing Peace:
A young teenage girl lives with her grandmothers in a boarding house during the war. Many foreigners pass through the area and one day an interesting woman ends up staying at the boarding house. She asks the young protagonist for help realizing the danger she might put them both in.
I don’t have too much to say on this story except for the fact that I enjoyed it. It had a mixture of suspense and drama.
Seeing Things Simply:
A young girl named Princesse gets the opportunity to be painted by a French artist named Catherine. Through the experience she not only learns about art but about life too.
A nice story that teaches you about the meaning behind art and that there is more to objects/people than meets the face. A picture says a thousand words.
Krik? Krak! is a wonderfully written collection of story of Danticat. Danticat knows how to weave together an excellent story with powerful characters that make an impact. I appreciated that she used a variety of characters (most of which are female) to offer the many perspectives of life in Haiti (and America). I learned a little more about Haiti’s background through reading this book and look forward more of Danticat’s works.