Sunday, December 21, 2008

96. "The Farming of Bones" - Edwidge Danticat

Another bit of history hidden from American schoolbooks: the Haitian massacre of 1937 (also known as the Parsley massacre). In this book, Amabelle and her "man," Sebastian, are separated during the melee after planning on leaving their respective working lives.

Danticat is brilliant at using language to sing, to play, to lament, to grieve. This is one of the books best read aloud by someone with a lyrical voice.

Sebastian is a cane worker, which is one of the worst jobs for Haitians. His body is scarred from the sugarcane (symbolic for bones because of the way it is burned before harvest). Still, she loves him and plans for he and his sister to leave. His friend leads her to Sebastian's mother's home, where she finds out more about the massacre.

This book should have weighed me down. It was heavy with symbolism and wonderfully written words, but my mind flew away from the horrors. I have read too much recently to be appreciative. Still, my mind goes back to the way the soldiers asked the Haitians to say "parsley," knowing they couldn't trill the r's like Spanish-speakers. I felt that Biblical weight like stones in my mouth.

3.5 out of 5.0 Rum Cobblers.

1 comment:

Stefania said...

I've always wanted to read a book by Edwige Danticat. Haiti is one of the most problematic countries in the Americas but it is also fascinating to learn about the difficult relationship with the Spanish-speaking part of the island. But I agree that reading too much about horrors can be counter-productive.