2018 Neustadt Prize Laureate – Edwidge Danticat
Edwidge Danticat is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and the novels-in-stories The Dew Breaker and Claire of the Sea Light; as well as The Art of Death, a National Books Critics Circle finalist. She is also the editor of The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, The Beacon Best of 2000, Haiti Noir, Haiti Noir 2, and Best American Essays 2011. She has written seven books for young adults and children—Anacaona Golden Flower, Behind the Mountains, Eight Days, The Last Mapou, Mama’s Nightingale, Untwine, and My Mommy Medicine—as well as a travel narrative, After the Dance: A Walk through Carnival in Jacmel, and two collections of essays, Create Dangerously and The Art of Death. Her memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 MacArthur Fellow. Her most recent book, Everything Inside, a collection of stories, was published in 2019.
“In her work, Danticat addresses how the specter of history haunts the unresolved present and undermines the future; how nationalism and national identity can be sources of both pride and corruption; and how parent-child bonds, no matter how damaged, can be redemptive. Danticat’s work is usually focused on her native Haiti—a Haiti of vengeance and violence and aching poverty but also of astonishing courage, love, and even magic. Danticat’s Haiti is the physical half-island of Hispaniola as well as all the metaphorical islands in which we take comfort and refuge, or find isolation and despair. . . . In her collection of essays, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, she takes on the art of creation, identity, and immigration. By doing this, she places the immigrant artist at the very center, rather than the margins, of American cultural discourse. She asks: What is the duty of the immigrant artist, removed from the dangers of the home country, but still haunted by it? And what, if any, is the responsibility of the displaced immigrant in a post-empire America?” – Achy Obejas, Danticat’s nominating juror