The Farming of Bones Background

The Farming of Bones Background

Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones is a historical fiction account of the 1937 Parsley Massacre, as seen through the eyes of Amabelle Desir.

The novel centers around the Parsley Massacre of 1937, when Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo organized a genocidal slaughter of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. Dominican resentment toward Haitians can be traced back to the 1800s, when Haitian forces took control of the Dominican Republic until 1844.

The number killed during the Parsley Massacre is unknown with numbers ranging from around 600 to 12,000. Most historians estimate the figure to be within the 6,000-8,000 range, though. Although the target of the genocide was Haitians, many dark-skinned Dominicans met their demise as soldiers killed those who merely appeared to be Haitian.

The massacre takes its name for one of the practices that Dominicans used to determine if someone was Haitian. The subject was told to pronounce perejil, the Spanish word for parsley. The difference between a Spanish-speaker and a French, Creole-speaking Haitian was enough for many to be killed on account of this.

The author of the novel, Edwidge Danticat, is a Haitian-American who moved to the United States from Haiti at 12. Much of her writing centers around Haiti, especially in terms of historical and geo-political conflicts.

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