Thursday, September 13, 2007
Throughout our academic careers, we are forced to read books that we'd otherwise never encounter. Some of these books are breezed through, barely having a chance to make a scratch on our subconsciouses. Others, however, are fully digested and leave an indelible imprint on our hearts, our minds, and our spirits.
Currently Reading... is a new section of the Boylan Blog which seeks to spotlight the latter. We hope to pass a passion for good literature to you, our reader, and to broaden the palates of those who already possess a hunger for the written word.
This week, Mohan Bell tell us about the book he has just finished reading, Breath, Eyes, Memory, by Edwidge Danticat.
This summer, I went on a reading expedition. This was supposed to be my vacation: a vacation into the world of literature, my chance to sweep through many cultures and ways of life. In the thickets of my expedition, I came upon the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. I read it in one day. One reason for this is that it is a small novel. However, the other reason is that I was held in the grasp of Danticat’s magical prose, which is charged with deep pain as well as an exploration of Haiti's deep cultural magic. This is a story about healing. It shows that healing is not easy, but a thing that takes time and pain. It is also a book about memories, and the haunting realities of them.
Breath, Eyes, Memory tells the story of a Haitian who immigrates to America, Sophie, and the connections she has with the women in her life. It takes us on a journey from her life in Haiti, to her move to America, and then her return to her homeland, where she has to go to find healing. One also can see it set in the backdrop of the political and cultural turmoil of Haiti.
One thing that intrigued me greatly about this book was the rich and thick storytelling that the reader encounters. One can sense the wisdom of the Haitian women who recount their stories, carrying on tradition. The main nucleus of this novel, though, is sexual humiliation and what it does for the mind of the women in the novel - be it rape or cultural methods of testing female virginity.
Readers can still summate that this is a first novel, because there are weak moments, especially in the final parts. However, these weak moments can only be caught with careful reading. If you are just reading and enjoying the richness of the story, as well as the cultural wealth that is being exuded, you will not catch the holes, but instead find yourself lost in a world unlike your own.
This is a novel that will definitely be recommended to friends over and over as a fast-paced and moving read.