I read The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat last night. It was like a personalized detour into Haiti after starting to follow along the Eduardo Galeano tour of the Open Veins of Latin America. Danticat’s book had diversity and redemption, of a sad sort. You ended up seeing everyone, even the torturer I suppose as victims of circumstance, of systemic violence. The tattoed and muscled Charlie saved by countryside peasants made for a Humpty Dumpty story with a happy end, a succesful putting-back-together. It made you feel a glimmer of hope for some of the media-highlighted ‘gang members’ sent back to El Salvador. There was even a lesbian.(Dangerous Rainbow)
I didn’t notice much politics, other than the hated second-generation President flying off to France with his wife, and Emmanuel Costant being in New York(‘living happily in Queens’ brought into detailed, imaginative life). Oh and the radio coverage of police violence and reference to Abner Louima. I like the book and maybe looking for more explicit politics was asking too much. Then again they do talk (in Voltaire’s French!) about Europe eating sugar with Haitian blood in it and detesting colonial titles. I kept thinking of US foreign policy as I read it but I wonder how much a typical Gringo reader, without a subscription to FAIR, a Znet membership and a bunch of Chomsky books, would come to think of our backyard and the Monroe Doctrine?
As a companion to Open Veins of Latin America it should be pretty good. The plastic slip covers of one sweet, traumatized old lady brought to mind Junot Diaz’s relatives from Drown. The kind solidarity, efforts at cordiality both in cheap basement apartments, and in prison were heart-warming – everything was sad but beautiful. Maybe the diverse characters, the empathy for the pain, and the story itself are politics enough. Though I guess it could use some nice Haiti Solidarity links at the end, something like that….