The Dew Breaker
After a bout of reading uninspiring novels and dull nonfiction, I decided that I needed to find a reliable source for future book recommendations to restore my faith and interest in the written word. Lists of prizewinning writing seemed like a good bet and has proven to be thus far. I discovered Edwidge Danticat's novel The Dew Breaker because it was a finalist in the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.
The story opens with in the modern day. A Haitian sculptor named Ka travels with her father to deliver one of her pieces, inspired by her dad, to a famous actress of Haitian descent. When Ka's father is nowhere to be found when she wakes up one morning in a hotel enroute, she frantically tries to recover him. He returns soon enough, but when she discovers why he left, and what he did with the sculpture of which he was the subject, Ka finally begins to uncover long-hidden pieces of her father's story from back home in Haiti that make her question what type of man he actually is.
The novel progresses with each chapter devoted to a new narrator, so that it almost reads like a series of short stories. At first, it doesn't actually appear that the novel is centered entirely around Ka's father, but by the time the final chapter unfolds, there is no doubt to who this novel belongs. A seemingly quiet, gentle, and good-natured person to Ka, the multitude of others whose lives her father has touched in dark and painful ways reveals a troubled and previously impenetrable side of this man.
Danticat's unique style of character development is unlike nearly any novel I've ever read. With each chapter I found myself guessing how the new story could possibly relate to the one to which I had initially been introduced. The Dew Breaker speaks to events both personal and political, to the ties to family and country, to the sometimes opposing sides of ourselves that we may want to hide or forget about completely. Blending experiences of 1960s Haitian upheaval and immigrant life in New York City today, Danticat creates a story that is highly emotional but remains grounded in very terrible and tangible realities. The Dew Breaker is easy to become absorbed in and hard to ignore. I'm curious to see what other novels are among the ranks of this one in the National Book Critics Circle Award as my efforts to find fiction among the lists of prize winners and finalists has proven quite successful thus far.
at 9:01 AM