20 October, 2010

Book Review: Krik? Krak!

Title: Krik? Krak!
Author: Edwidge Danticat
Publisher: Vintage Contemporaries
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Page Count: 224
Rating: 4 out of 5
Cover Rating: 3.5 out of 5. Good. Normally, people on the front cover don't really jive with me, but I believe this image fits the story well enough it's not an issue. I wish--once again--that the title font had been bigger than the author's font, but oh well.

Back Cover: 

When Haitians tell a story they say "Krik?" and the eager listeners say "Krak!" In Krik? Krak! Danticat establishes herself as the latest heir to the 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.

My expectations: It was a National Book Award Finalist, so I expected a well-written book.

I got a well-written book.

About the book: Many of the stories in Krik? Krak! are disturbing. Focusing on the lives of women in Haiti, it's not exactly a feel-good collection, because of the way women are treated, by their husbands, by soldiers,  by society.

The stories are, however, realistically portrayed. Haitian culture isn't exactly calm and reasonable under normal circumstances--after reading this, the earthquakes in January are put into a more stark light. I can't imagine what it would be like living in that sort of destruction and society, and surviving.

Edwidge Danticat writes well. The stories--while unusual to what I am used to--flowed along with the words, and I enjoyed her style.

  • Plot:

Each of the nine stories is different; the endings are usually unexpected, and most of them are disturbing. Not in a bad way, exactly, but they did sort of startle me. Like when it turned out that one woman had been thrown out of her husband's home because she kept delivering stillborn children, and then, out of some sort of mental breakdown, started taking care of a child--as if it was her own--that turned out to be dead. 

The stories made me wonder at the psychological strains that the characters were going through to commit such acts of suicide and desperation--but also hope.

  • Characters:

The characters are diverse, and they are mostly focused on women, although some stories are told through a man's perspective. I did not really like any of the characters, though I did find many of them interesting. What happens to the characters can be horrific; the way they're treated and the way that the others around them deal with the situations is not like what you'd expect in a rational society.

  • Setting/Elements:

The first story has an interesting format; it's written in the form of letters two lovers are writing to each other, one out in the sea, the other still living in the violence back at home. (The others are in the third and first person.) I think the way they they put this together as a collection worked well for the book.

Other: Suicide, violence, references, disturbing events, some sex (it's not actively described or anything, but it's on the minds of a few of the characters). Sometimes the actions of the people are strange and out of control (such as witch burning/trials).

Do I recommend this book? Yes, but it's not for the faint-of-heart.

-----The Golden Eagle


C. N. Nevets said...

This book sounds incredible and very much up my alley. Thanks for the review. I'll be purchasing soon, based on your comments!

Hannah Kincade said...

Huh, I will definitely put this one on my list. I think I have the authors name written down to investigate but it's nice to have a title now. Thanks!

Misha1989 said...

This book sounds amazing. Thanks for the review and the recommendation!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

It sounds like a moving book...

Lydia Kang said...

Great review. It sounds like a raw, difficult book to read but it seems like those stories need to be told, even if they are fiction.

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

Sounds powerful. Interesting how you can like the book without liking the characters - I just had an experience like that. What a wild look into damaged psyches - taking care of a dead child? Anyway, great review!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Sounds like a tough read, but worthwhile . . . if I can get my courage up beforehand. I'll definitely think about finding a copy.
Great Review!

The Golden Eagle said...

Nevets: Really? Well, I hope that you enjoy reading it! :)

Hannah: You're welcome!

Misha1989: :)

Sharon: It is a moving book, even despite the fact it is a little disturbing.

Lydia: I agree! Stories like that do need to be told.

Alyssa: Sometimes I'll like a book despite the characters, and sometimes vice versa. There are so many different factors!

Tyrean: Into the breach, as they say! :)

Palaverer said...

I loved the book as well, and agree it could be tough. I wrote a review, too, which you could read here:


Hope you enjoy!