The SPB Q: Edwidge Danticat

Quote of the Day: “Sign your name across my heart/I want you to be my baby…” “Sign Your Name” by Terence Trent D’Arby


Somewhere along the way, my mother became the only person who recommended books and authors that I ended up loving. Work often kept me too busy to get any real pleasure reading done, and I’d go visit my folks, only to find my mother nose-deep in some book, basically ignoring me as I kissed her hello. Eventually she’d come out of her haze and before “Hello, baby” or “How are you?”, she’d say, “I’m reading the best book!” That’s how I fell for the work of Edwidge Danticat.
I’d known of Edwidge–we had the same agent at the time, and she’d gotten her MFA at Brown–but I’d never read her. Then she got the Oprah Book Club stamp, and though she was already known as a beautiful stylist and storyteller, the world was now reading her, my mother included. Breath, Eyes, Memory is a lyrical, graceful gem of a book–and it opened me up to a whole new world through Edwidge’s breathtakingly emotional tour of Haitian culture and families. My favorite of hers is Brother, I’m Dying, a devastating family memoir of life and birth and death that breaks the rules so elegantly you feel like you’re discovering language for the very first time. 
I’m so glad to have this award-winning author regale us with The SPB Q. You should be, too (and you should be reading–no, living–her books, as well!)


Name: Edwidge Danticat

Hometown(s): Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Brooklyn, New York and Miami, Florida

Zodiac sign: Capricorn

Favorite book: Wow, I can’t pick just one. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and Love, Anger, Madness by Marie Vieux Chauvet

Favorite author: Again, can’t pick just one. Toni Morrison, Marie Vieux Chauvet, Jacques Roumain, Jacques Stephen Alexis and Paule Marshall

Favorite movie: Whale Rider. That Niki Caro movie starring Keisha Castle-Hughes. It’s set in Australia. Also Daughters of the Dust, the Julie Dash movie. I also love Joanthan Demme’s adaptation of Beloved, in which I had a small role as one of the thirty women who come at the end to liberate the house from the ghost.

Favorite song: “Kèm Pa Sote” by Haitian roots band Boukman Eksperyans. It’s an anthem to fearlessness. Also, Wyclef Jean’s “Yele”

Favorite word: It’s “actually.” I didn’t realize I said it so much until my three year old pointed it out. (Apparently I sometimes say it through clenched teeth, according to my daughter.)

Biggest influence as an writer: Oral storytelling.

Career High: Being nominated for the National Book Award in both fiction and nonfiction

Life High: The birth of my two daughters

You are on a desert island but can have 5 books with you, what would they be?

Since it’s a desert island and I’d have lots of time to kill, the books would have to be really long.

Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
All Souls’ Rising by Madison Smartt Bell
The Complete Stories by Zora Neale Hurston
Oeuvres Completes de Jacques Roumain (Completed Works of Jacques Roumain.)

Your favorite quote: “Live simply so that others can simply live.” — Gandhi

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1 Comment

Filed under books, Edwidge Danticat, The SPB Q

One response to “The SPB Q: Edwidge Danticat

  1. Nice interview! Keep them coming!

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