Edwidge Danticat writes novels to convey the deep and troubled history of her home, Haiti: a culturally rich, tragedy-prone country that most Americans know little about, aside from what was gained from inescapable news coverage after a January 2010 earthquake left the island nation in ruins. Since Danticat published her first short story at 14 years old, the Haitian author has chronicled her country in non-fiction and fiction alike.

Danticat’s books bring to life events that otherwise risk being exiled to textbooks. The 1937 massacre of thousands of Haitians under Rafael Trujilo’s 30-year dictatorship is fictionalized in Danticat’s 1998 The Farming of the Bones. The author sheds light on Haiti’s cultural elements as well — her non-fiction work After The Dance, provides insight into the Haitian celebration of Carnival. Many of Danticat’s publications are told from her unique perspective as an immigrant-artist.

Click here to view a slideshow of post-quake life in Port-au-Prince

Edwidge Danticat is making history … lending a voice to the voiceless. Choosing to write for both adults and children, Danticat is doing all she can to globally represent the stories of a people suffering from a 50 percent literacy rate.

What’s next for Edwidge?

Danticat will continue to write stories that tell of the immigrant-artist experience and the stories of Haiti that aren’t being told, because of the low number of high-profile, English-writing Haitian writers. Her latest book Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work came out in November.

What inspires Edwidge?

“”The Haitian people,”” the Haitian author told theGrio. “”Their strength and courage, compassion and spirituality, which has continuously been tested since they gained their independence in 1804.”

A favorite quote …

A Haitian proverb: Piti piti zwazo fè nich.

Translation: “Little by little the bird makes his nest.”

A little-known fact …

Haiti, a country roughly the size of Maryland, is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. The earthquake on January 12, 2010 was the strongest to hit the island nation since 1770, with a final death toll at 230,000. Comparatively, HIV/AIDS, the leading cause of death for Haitians besides the quake, kills 7,500 a year.

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