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Claire of the Sea Light
by Edwidge Danticat

Overview -

From the best-selling author of "Brother, I'm Dying" and "The Dew Breaker: " a stunning new work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl, the daughter of a fisherman, has gone missing.
Claire Limye Lanme--Claire of the Sea Light--is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti.  Read more...


 
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More About Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
 
 
 
Overview

From the best-selling author of "Brother, I'm Dying" and "The Dew Breaker: " a stunning new work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl, the daughter of a fisherman, has gone missing.
Claire Limye Lanme--Claire of the Sea Light--is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire's mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother's grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life.
But on the night of Claire's seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents, and to the town itself. Told with piercing lyricism and the economy of a fable, "Claire of the Sea Light" is a tightly woven, breathtaking tapestry that explores what it means to be a parent, child, neighbor, lover, and friend, while revealing the mysterious bonds we share with the natural world and with one another. Embracing the magic and heartbreak of ordinary life, it is Edwidge Danticat's most spellbinding, astonishing book yet.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780307271792
  • ISBN-10: 030727179X
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: August 2013
  • Page Count: 238


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Sagas
Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Cultural Heritage

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-05-27
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this gorgeous, arresting, and profoundly vivid new novel, Danticat once again tells a story that feels as mysterious and magical as a folk tale and as effective and devastating as a newsreel. Claire Limyè Lanmè (“Claire of the Sea Light”) is turning seven, and yet her birthday has always been marked by both death and renewal. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and she has been raised by her fisherman father in a shack near the sea. The book begins there—in the shack, on the morning of her birthday—before winding back to tell the story of every previous birthday, and who lived, and died, each year. For some time, Claire’s father has considered giving her to a wealthy businesswoman who lost her own daughter, and the heartbreaking question of Claire’s fate adds to the novel’s suspense, as both the past, and this single day, unfold. In the meantime, Danticat (Krik? Krak!) paints a stunning portrait of this small Haitian town, in which the equally impossible choices of life and death play out every day. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Nicole Aragi Agency. (Aug.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Life and death surround a young Haitian girl

A portrait of Haiti derived from facts alone would be grim. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, suffers from catastrophic deforestation and is frequently visited by the United States military. In 2010, an earthquake added insult to perennial injury.

Edwidge Danticat’s new novel, Claire of the Sea Light, offers a somewhat different picture. Deforestation rates a mention. And yes, the justice system is corrupt or nonexistent. But her portrait of Haiti’s people makes for a crucial difference. The living is decidedly not easy, but there’s summertime here in spades.

Claire is a young girl whose mother died while delivering her. Her father, adoring but unfit, makes the painful decision to offer her to a woman whose own daughter has died in a traffic accident as comical as it was tragic. In a parallel storyline, the local schoolmaster’s son, who joined the “dyaspora” to Miami, returns home and must face having raped his household’s servant girl and fathered a son by her. What’s more, his one true love was actually a man who fell to bullets long before.

Somehow, Danticat’s sweet touch makes this bad medicine go down. Her prose is simple and concrete, her characters vivid and warm. There is a timelessness about this tale that elevates it almost to parable. It recalls other novels of the Caribbean, from The Old Man and the Sea to A House for Mr. Biswas. Almost 20 years after Breath, Eyes, Memory and Krik? Krak!, Danticat has become the Naipaul of her generation.

Though Danticat resides in Miami, this novel’s strongest character is the one who stays behind. Her reasoning? “She liked her ghosts nearby.”

 
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