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Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat on life in Haiti, Miami and the stories that made her

Author Edwidge Dantica is being honored at the Miami Book Fair’s 40th anniversary celebration.
shevaun williams
Author Edwidge Dantica is being honored at the Miami Book Fair’s 40th anniversary celebration.

It’s hard to think of a more distinctive Miami voice than that of the author Edwidge Danticat.

Whether we're talking about writing or culture, no one’s name comes up more often in conversation than Danticat's among the Sundial team.

Danticat stands at the intersection of both. Whether she’s writing non-fiction or novels or children’s books, her voice rings with a unique sound — Haiti’s, where she was born and the diaspora’s in Miami.

Her many books help us understand the connection between the two.

As an immigrant and minority, Danticat said she doesn't necessarily subscribe to the idea that the burden of representing every nuance of a culture should fall on one particular perspective.

READ MORE: This scholar shows us an ‘Afrofantastic’ future in his South Florida exhibit

"I also try to resist the weight of having one story mean everything. I think it's also important to leave room for the voices," she said. She hopes her work can be an entry point to Haitian culture.

"I see myself more as like a crack in the door, and then others will push it open,” she said.

The Miami Book Fair is honoring her at its 40th anniversary gala Friday night. She’ll also be on a panel with other Caribbean voices the following day.

Her experience being raised by her aunt and uncle in Haiti while her parents were building a life in the U.S. seeps into her work. Those triumphs and struggles of the Haitian community are made evident in several of her books such as Krik Krak and Brother, I’m Dying, the latter being a memoir of her family. Both were finalists for the National Book Awards. She’s also a MacArthur Fellow — a genius grant winner.

She said writing has become a way to make sense of her life.

"It's how I honor the people I love, the people who are still with me … It's just how all those things are processed through me. And I think art sometimes makes us vessels, and even the person creating is not always sure how that stuff comes through," Danticat said.

"But you remain open. And if you practice enough, then things come out of it that also might be helpful to you in the creation, but it also might be helpful to other people and their own processing of the world we share."

Listen to the full interview on Sundial above.

We’re celebrating books by talking to authors all week. We’ll finish with a taping of Sundial before a live audience when we speak with Carl Hiaasen.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.
Alyssa Ramos is the multimedia producer for Morning Edition for WLRN. She produces regional stories for newscasts and manages digital content on WLRN.
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