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Informative, deeply felt, and often moving, but unlikely to appeal to the general reader.

Thirty-three Haitians and Haitian-Americans reflect on their experiences away from the island.

Haitian writer Danticat (The Farming of Bones, 1998, etc.) edited this collection of short works by Haitian emigrants. The pieces are nominally divided into five groups (Childhood, Migration, Half/First Generation, Return, and Future), but many could easily fall into three or more categories. Most are autobiographical sketches, but a few poems are also included. As a whole, they provide a fairly informative primer on the identity issues faced by those of Haitian stock who live in the US, but while their stated purpose is to look at the Haitian diaspora in America, they return again and again to Haiti itself and to the idea of Haitian-ness. When they do, one is aware that only one side of a complicated story is being told, for no voices from Haiti or France are represented and there is little divergence among the various authors on political issues. “Papa Doc” Duvalier (the dictator who sent many of the authors and their families into exile) is universally reviled, while Jean-Bertrand Aristide (the popularly elected president who was eventually toppled in a coup) is generally adored. There is also an undeniable class slant: The vast majority of the pieces are written with a distinct upper-middle-class sensibility, and the biographies of the contributors reveal that almost all are journalists, professors, writers, or graduate students. Perhaps accordingly, several selections read like papers written for a course on identity and society at a liberal-arts college—jargon and all. Others, however (such as Jean-Robert Cadet’s account of his life as a restavek, or slave child, and Marie-Hélène Laforest’s record of her family’s intransigence in exile), rise above didacticism and vividly convey the complications imposed by life in the diaspora.

Informative, deeply felt, and often moving, but unlikely to appeal to the general reader.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-56947-218-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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