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The Dew Breaker Paperback – 6 May 2004

6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; First Printing edition (6 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400041147
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400041145
  • ASIN: 0349117896
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.7 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Remarkable...Danticat's most persuasive, organic performance yet. As seamless as it is compelling. (NEW YORK TIMES)

Riveting... Dandicat leads her readers into the underworld. It's furnished like home. (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

The episodic quality beautifully captures the fabric of this community and how it must weave itself together. (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)

This excellent, unsettling novel is her finest, and a literary gem. (INDEPENDENT)

Book Description

* A brilliant new novel on universal political themes in Haiti.

* An eloquent and powerful novel of interconnected lives which asks tough and emotive questions about life in a fascinating country.

Inside This Book

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My father is gone. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DubaiReader VINE VOICE on 22 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
Having enjoyed Ms Danticat's previous 2 books, I had to search for a while to find this one. It was worth the wait. While it differs from the others in that it is more a series of short stories than a novel, they are cleverly interwoven and beautifully written.

The term 'Dew Breaker' was the term used in Haiti during the period of dictator Francois Duvalier's regime, for the torturers who enforced his will upon the people. These Dew Breakers, also known as 'Macoutes', struck at first light as the dew was falling. Francois Duvalier's son, Jean-Claude, succeeded his father in 1971 and finally fled the country after a total of 29 years of Duvalier terror. The Macoutes were subsequently hunted down or escaped the country.

The book introduces a Dew Breaker who has made his home in New York, with his wife and talented daughter Ka (meaning good angel). A mild mannered man, he does nothing to draw attention to himself and lives a reclusive life, constantly in fear if being recognised. Even 30 years later he is still hiding from his past. Whilst he is ashamed to finally confess his true identity to his daughter, is he truly repentant for his actions? Would he have behaved differently if he were given his time again?

Meanwhile we meet a number of people whose lives were forever changed by the Macoute's work. These stories are profoundly moving, but also very cleverly connected, and the whole is a very well written view of both sides of the story.

Ms Danticat has improved with each of her books and I eagerly await her next. All her books are well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 18 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
Author Danticat introduces her story of Haitian immigrants and the lives they have escaped in Haiti with the story of Ka, a young sculptress whose parents think of her as a "good angel," her name also associated symbolically with the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Ka is in Florida with her father to deliver a powerfully rendered sculpture to a Haitian TV actress. Ka's father, who served as the model for the sculpture, however, destroys it, confessing tearfully that he is not the man his daughter has always believed him to be, and admitting that the disfiguring scar on his face was not the result of torture in a Haitian prison. He was "the hunter," he says, and "not the prey," one of the "dew breakers," or torturers, who as part of the Tonton Macoutes, committed political assassinations and inflicted unimaginable tortures on orders of dictators Francois Duvalier and his son "Baby Doc" between 1957-86.
In a series of episodes which resemble short stories more than a novel in form, Danticat illuminates the lives of approximately a dozen Haitian immigrants as they remember this traumatic period "back home." As the "novel" alternates between past and present, it is told from disparate points of view--those of Ka's mother and father, a young man visiting Haiti after ten years to see his blinded aunt, a wedding seamstress in New York, a Haitian-American reporter investigating a possible "dew-breaker," a man remembering a Haitian friend's long-ago disappearance as he awaits his son's birth in New York, and a popular Haitian preacher whose arrest affects lives for many years.
The novel gains much of its power from the horrors of vividly described torture and the overwhelming fear engendered by the Tonton Macoute militia.
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By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
Haiti has always struck me as a place with fascinating history, and since my grandparents lived there from 1967-69, I've been curious to learn more about that particular period. This slim novel, which deals at least partially with that era, seemed like a good way to get a taste of life under the repressive dictatorship of "Papa Doc" Duvalier. It opens with the story of a young woman who's just sold her first sculpture, a mahogany statue of her father. She's on her way to Florida with her father to deliver the piece to the wealthy actress who's purchased it. But this celebratory trip is derailed when the father reveals that the distinctive facial scar he got in prison in Haiti as a young man was not the result of being a prisoner. Rather, it was received from a prisoner when the father was one of the Tontons Macoute militiamen who terrorized the country during the Duvalier regime. The horrific revelation kicks off a series of chapters in which the legacy of that regime is examined through the eyes of a variety of Haitians, many of whose lives have been affected by the sculptor's father.

The term "chapters" actually isn't quite accurate -- the sections are really distinct short stories, all of which have links of varying directness to the father in the first story/section/chapter. Indeed, as I later found out, a number of them had been previously published as freestanding short stories. This structure makes for a kind of choppy narrative, as there are not only a revolving cast of characters, but shifts in time and location throughout.
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