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AFTER THE DANCE:
A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti

One in the Crown Journeys series
Author: Edwidge Danticat

In After the Dance, one of Haiti’s most renowned daughters returns to her homeland, taking readers on a stunning, exquisitely rendered journey beyond the hedonistic surface of Carnival and into its deep heart. Danticat had long been scared off from Carnival by a loved one, who spun tales of people dislocating hips from gyrating with too much abandon, losing their voices from singing too loudly, going deaf from the clamor of immense speakers, and being punched, stabbed, pummeled, or fondled by other lustful revelers. Now an adult, she resolves to return and exorcise her Carnival demons. She spends the week before Carnival in the area around Jacmel, exploring the rolling hills and lush forests and meeting the people who live and die in them. During her journeys she traces the heroic and tragic history of the island, from French colonists and Haitian revolutionaries to American invaders and home-grown dictators. Danticat also introduces us to many of the performers, artists, and organizers who re-create the myths and legends that bring the Carnival festivities to life. When Carnival arrives, we watch as she goes from observer to participant and finally loses herself in the overwhelming embrace of the crowd.

Part travelogue, part memoir, this is a lyrical narrative of a writer rediscovering her country along with a part of herself. It’s also a wonderful introduction to Haiti’s southern coast and to the true beauty of Carnival.

From Publishers Weekly

Twenty years after emigrating to America, Danticat (Breath, Eyes, Memory) returns to her native Haiti and the coastal village of Jacmel to take part in her first Carnival. But she's not without reservations. As a child she was forbidden to partake in the festivities by her uncle, a Baptist minister with whom she lived before joining her parents in New York at age 12. "People always hurt themselves during carnival, he said, and it was their fault, for gyrating with so much abandon that they would dislocate their hips and shoulders and lose their voices while singing too loudly."

Organized in sections that parallel Danticat's perambulations in the week leading up to the event, the author illuminates the political, economic and cultural history of the island nation, introducing Columbus, French colonists and Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, the dictator of Danticat's youth.

Throughout, readers meet local artists, farmers and activists who call Jacmel home, including Ovid, a farmer whom Danticat meets having lost her way in an abandoned sugar plantation. Madame Ovid, his wife, crafts paper cones to hold the grilled corn flour she will sell during carnival.

It's said that the act of writing leads to a deeper understanding of one's subject, and oneself. As the work reveals in its final pages, for no one is this more true than Danticat, who offers an enlightening look at the country and Carnival through the eyes of one of its finest writers.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

$16.95 (hardcover)
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