Published in 1995, Krik? Krak! is a collection of 9 short stories written by Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat. Though they have differing topics and central characters, the stories are linked together because of one central concept: the relationships Haitian women have to their families and their country. The stories are set in Port au Prince, the fictional town of Ville Rose, and New York City over a span of years. The title of the collection, Krik? Krak!, is a Haitian phrase used to introduce a period of storytelling. The storyteller asks their audience “Krik?” and they reply “Krak!” Typically, the stories told during a Krik? Krak! session are lighthearted tales, jokes, riddles, etc. Therefore, Danticat’s collection, which features stories of poverty, loss, death, struggle, and survival instead of humorous interludes, is a bit misleading.
Danticat has been praised for giving a silenced Haiti its voice back after the oppressive regimes of François Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier. Krik? Krak! is one of the main texts Danticat wrote about the lives of pedestrian Haitians trying to survive under the Duvalier dictatorships. Danticat’s own parents fled Haiti because of the Duvaliers, and Danticat herself lived for 12 years under Jean-Claude’s dictatorship. This gives Danticat a unique personal connection to the stories she weaves in the collection. Few authors have tackled this history from this perspective or in the prose medium; that is the historical value of Krik? Krak!
In 1995, Krik? Krak! was nominated for the National Book Award for Fiction. Numerous critics and reviewers have praised the collection, calling it “virtually flawless” and “harsh, passionate, lyrical” (Washington Post Book World and The Seattle Times, respectively). The enduring power and popularity of Krik? Krak! lies in Danticat’s ability to tell the stories that bring to life the history, hopes, and human experience of Haitian people.