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- The Best Reviewed Books of the WeekMay 25, 2018
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In part one of Paul Holdengraber’s conversation with Edwidge Danticat, after a brief discussion of writing books for young people, they pretty much just talk about death—writing about it, experiencing it close to you, and accessing the richness of its inverse state, life.
Edwidge Danticat on writing, and reading, about death…
One of the reasons I was drawn to this was that my mom passed away last October, and so in my grief I was looking for books like that to read. I know a lot of people say they can’t read right after; for me reading is kind of my salvation, so I was lucky, that I was able to read. And one of the first things I read was C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed, and actually I was reading that before my mom even passed away. I was reading that sort of in hospitals and things like that when we learned she was terminal. I was reading it kind of to prepare myself, and I read that quite a lot.
Edwidge Danticat on grief…
Grief feels like—each time, and I’ve been through this with my father and now with my mother—but each time it feels really new. It feels like nobody else has experienced this in their lives. And you’re walking down the street and, especially right after it happened, and you wonder how the world can go on, you know? And so I think a part of the comfort is learning that others have been there before. And that they’ve had the sort of wherewithal, because we are people of the same craft.
Edwidge Danticat on the supernatural power of poetry…
It’s almost bizarre, but I also feel like poetry is a much easier way of communicating with the dead. You can recite something that resonates with you into the air and it seems like you are sending it to your loved one. I felt that even when my father passed away, when I found something that seemed especially relevant I would just read it out loud to him, kind of.
Edwidge Danticat on what we want to hear from the dying…
Part of what we hope to hear from the dying is—and certainly with my mother—if you have the opportunity, you want them to tell you something that hadn’t occurred to anyone else before because you suspect they might be closer to some type of superior realm of knowledge. It’s unfair, you know, but I think it’s also part of the pre-grief that people go through that you’re sort of trying to find a meaning in what is happening.
NEXT WEEK: EDWIDGE DANTICAT, PART TWO
In which death is explored further, and Haiti is discussed.