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Publisher's Summary

From the universally acclaimed author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and Krik? Krak!, a brilliant, deeply moving work of fiction that explores the world of a "dew breaker", a torturer, a man whose brutal crimes in the country of his birth lie hidden beneath his new American reality. We meet him late in his life. He is a quiet man, a husband and father, a hardworking barber, a kindly landlord to the men who live in a basement apartment in his home. He is a fixture in his Brooklyn neighborhood, recognizable by the terrifying scar on his face. As the book unfolds, moving seamlessly between Haiti in the 1960s and New York City today, we enter the lives of those around him: his devoted wife and rebellious daughter; his sometimes unsuspecting, sometimes apprehensive neighbors, tenants, and clients. And we meet some of his victims.
In the book's powerful denouement, we return to the Haiti of the dew breaker's past, to his last, desperate act of violence, and to his first encounter with the woman who will offer him a form of redemption, albeit imperfect, that will change him forever. The Dew Breaker is a book of interconnected lives, a book of love, remorse, and hope; of rebellions both personal and political; of the compromises we often make in order to move beyond the most intimate brushes with history. Unforgettable, deeply resonant, The Dew Breaker proves once more that in Edwidge Danticat we have a major American writer.
Hear Edwidge Danticat, Dave Eggers, Cynthia Ozick, and Orhan Pamuk discuss literature and politics at The New Yorker Festival. Also, don't miss Danticat's conversation with Chang-rae Lee.
©2004 Edwidge Danticat (P)2004 Recorded Books
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Critic Reviews

PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist, 2005
"Courageous. . . . Beautiful. . . . The Dew Breaker is brilliant book, undoubtedly the best one yet by an enormously talented writer." (The Washington Post Book World)
"Danticat's gift is to combine both sympathy and clarity in a moral tangle that becomes as tight as a Haitian community." (Time)
"A devastating story of love, delusion, and history." (O, The Oprah Magazine)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Andrea on 05-06-05


Edwidge Danticat has taken several disparate elements--stories from various times and set in various places--and baked a delicious cake with them. Each chapter is a short story in itself, but they are all brought together by the person of the "dew breaker:" a man whose job it was to come in the early morning hours to drag people away for torture and killing under the Duvalier regimes in Haiti. Not knowing until the end how each story relates to the others adds to the tension of this well-written story.

The icing on the cake, though, is the reading, which incorporates Creole, French, American-Creole and American inner-city Ebonics (sometimes more than one of these are heard in the same conversation) to deliver a far better reading than I could have supplied for myself.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Patricia on 06-15-04

Almost, but not quite

This book was a great character study, but it didn't go far enough. We meet many characters once, hear part of their story, but never learn why they're important to the story, other than that they once knew the barber. Lots of pieces are left hanging. The book summary suggests that the Dew Breaker turned his life around because of the woman he meets ... I would say he was actually motivated by fear of capture and death at the hands of his former colleagues, when he bungled a job. It felt like the book ended, when it was really only halfway through the potential story. Too bad.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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