Books: Smiling Amid Corpses

Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat exhumes the past in a powerful, haunting novel

No antiseptic, nothing for the pain, just the serrated slice of her words. Yes, there is the butterfly kiss on the forehead of her lyrical descriptions, her dreamlike interludes, the floating sense of magic realism. But when you read Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat's new novel, The Farming of Bones (Soho; 312 pages; $23), every chapter cuts deep, and you feel it. The book is based on a historical incident in 1937, when Dominican dictator Trujillo ordered the massacre of 15,000 to 20,000 Haitian emigrants living in his country. The Farming of Bones recounts the story through the eyes of Amabelle Desir,...

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