Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat [in Booklist]
Following The Art of Death (2017), a reflection on her mother’s passing and writing, Edwidge Danticat focuses this haunting eight-story collection on, well, death. Looming death becomes a bargaining chip in “Dosas,” when an ex-husband begs his ex-wife to help save her kidnapped replacement, and in “In the Old Days,” when an adult daughter is summoned to the final bedside of her never-met-before father. Survivors navigate new lives in “The Gift,” which portrays an artist who lost her lover’s baby, and her lover, who has lost his wife and young daughter, and in “Seven Stories,” in which a prime minister’s wife and daughter persevere after his assassination.
Fatal illness causes a living death in “The Port-au-Prince Marriage Special,” a tale about a young woman diagnosed with AIDS, and in “Sunrise, Sunset,” with an aging woman succumbing to memory loss, while inhumane brutality has a similar effect on the Haitian rape victims a privileged U.S. teen encounters as a recovery center volunteer in “Hot Air Balloons.” In the final story, a Haitian refugee recalls his life in 6.5 seconds as he plummets to his death.
Danticat once again urges readers out of comfort zones to bear witness to urgent topics – refugee crises, polarizing inequity, violence, disasters – and alchemizes sorrows and tragedies into opportunities for literary enlightenment.