“In her work, Danticat addresses how the specter of history haunts the unresolved present and undermines the future; how nationalism and national identity can be sources of both pride and corruption; and how parent-child bonds, no matter how damaged, can be redemptive. Danticat’s work is usually focused on her native Haiti—a Haiti of vengeance and violence and aching poverty but also of astonishing courage, love, and even magic. Danticat’s Haiti is the physical half-island of Hispaniola as well as all the metaphorical islands in which we take comfort and refuge, or find isolation and despair. . . . In her collection of essays, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, she takes on the art of creation, identity, and immigration. By doing this, she places the immigrant artist at the very center, rather than the margins, of American cultural discourse. She asks: What is the duty of the immigrant artist, removed from the dangers of the home country, but still haunted by it? And what, if any, is the responsibility of the displaced immigrant in a post-empire America?” – Achy Obejas, Danticat’s nominating juror
Edwidge Danticat (b. 1969) is the author of Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones; The Dew Breaker; Create Dangerously; Claire of the Sea Light; and The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story. She is also the editor of The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, Best American Essays 2011, Haiti Noir, and Haiti Noir 2. She has written six books for children and young adults—Anacaona, Behind the Mountains, Eight Days, The Last Mapou, Mama’s Nightingale, and Untwine—as well as a travel narrative, After the Dance. Her memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She was a 2009 MacArthur fellow. (Source: EdwidgeDanticat.com)
The 2018 Neustadt jury read The Dew Breaker as the representative text of Danticat’s work.