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Edwidge Danticat on Haiti's Challenge

The celebrated Haitian-American author joins us.

A worker sprays with disinfectant a woman with symptoms of cholera in Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, November 10, 2010. (AP)

The news from Haiti can seem to go from disastrous to worse. An epic earthquake in January. An outpouring of sympathy from the world. 

Then there was the reality of rubble and flimsy relief camps. Recently, there’s been a hurricane, a deadly cholera outbreak, and now riots. 

Famed Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat is watching with the rest of us, with the rest of the Haitian diaspora.  She’s watching with the special pain of watching countrymen and women, cousins, the country of her birth, in agony. 

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Edwidge Danticat, award-winning Haitian-American author. Her new book is “Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work.” She’s also author of the new children’s book, “Eight Days: A Story of Haiti.” She won a 2009 MacArthur “genius grant.”

Jacqueline Charles, Caribbean correspondent for the Miami Herald, and close friend of Edwidge Danticat.  An award-winning journalist, she arrived in Haiti a day after the earthquake hit in January, and was the first to interview Haitian President Rene Preval after the disaster. She herself was born in the Turks and Caicos Islands; her mother is Haitian and she has many relatives in Haiti.

Here’s an excerpt from Danticat’s new book:

WALK STRAIGHT
By Edwidge Danticat

Excerpted from her new book, CREATE DANGEROUSLY. © 2010 Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission.

I am not going to make it all the way, I think. We’ve been walking for four hours and suddenly I have a piercing pain in my side. My cousin Maxo’s oldest son, Nick, is about thirty feet ahead, hiking at a steady gait, following my Uncle Joseph, who’s been struggling up a steep mound on a borrowed mule. We have been told that the mule knows the way, instinctively, has made the journey several times before, but I haven’t, not for a while, not since I was eight years old.

Short and stout and handsome, Nick stops and pulls a pack of menthol Comme Il Faut cigarettes out of his shirt pocket. While lighting up, he turns around to check on me, doubled over, hugging my midsection, where the pain has spread from my abdomen down to my thighs. Nick walks over and puts his nonsmoky hand on my shoulder.

“Tired?” he asks.

I want to tell him that I am more than tired, but I am saving all my strength to ward off the pain.

“I think I’m dying,” I finally manage to say.

“No you’re not,” he answers, chuckling before drawing once more on his cigarette. “I was just like you when I came back here for the first time in a while. All the walking is just catching up with your body. You’ll be fine in a minute.”

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