Review: The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States

By | October 5, 2013

The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States
The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States by Edwidge Danticat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really very good. This is a collection of tales of the Haitian Diaspora–those who fled from Haiti for various reasons to settle elsewhere, and their reactions both to their new homes and their home in memory.

It was not what I expected, due to my own ignorance. I expected it to be much more a collection of writings by people just as if they were journaling, but these are more than that.

Yes, it is somewhat like a collection of journals, but the stories are thoughtful, and insightful, and beautifully written. They run the gamut from poignant to bitter, from angry to resigned to happy, from despair to hope.

This book, for the ignorant (like me), opens up the society and culture of Haiti and Haitians. Something as simple as a mother doing everything to help her son, or a father working two or three jobs for his family–ordinary things that take on new meaning when you realize how much they had to abandon when they left Haiti, but also how much they have not yet given up–not their dignity and feelings and purposes.

I did not know before I read this book something that’s quite obvious to me now: Haiti is the first black republic in the world. There is a long history of self-determination (and the struggle to maintain that), and a long history of cultural and social development. There is a shock of one culture meeting another when Haitian enter into the diaspora, but it is the meeting of cultural rivals, if not equals.

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