The Dew Breaker Background

The Dew Breaker Background

The Dew Breaker is a 2004 novel by Edwidge Danticat which is structured in the form of nine connected stories. Each story is set either in Haiti at the height of the dictatorship of François Duvalier, known as Papa Doc, and his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier or else in the Haitian-American community of New York City. The title refers to the militia in the service of the brutal dictators with a penchant for torture officially known as the Tonton Macoutes, but known among the locals as dew breakers. This name was earned as a result of the torturers tending to arrive at the homes of their victims in early morning hours.

The titular character is one of those members of the militia who escaped from his former sinister life to come to America, where he has been living well beneath the radar of his notorious past by living a modest life with the intent of seeking redemption through the power of forgetting. The author, Edwidge Danticat, was herself born in Haiti and moved to the United States as a very young child when her parents immigrated to New York.

Highly regarded by critics as yet another step forward in the career of a younger writer already honored as one of the most arresting voices of her generation, The Dew Breaker received nominations for a National Book Critics Circle Award as well as a PEN/Faulkner Award.

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