It is 1937, and Amabelle Desir is a young Haitian woman working as a maid for a wealthy family in the Dominican Republic, across the border from her homeland.
The Republic, under the iron rule of the Generalissimo, treats the Haitians as second-class citizens, and although Amabelle feels a strong sense of loyalty to her employers, especially since her own parents drowned crossing the river from Haiti, racial tensions are heightened when Amabelle's boss accidentally kills a Haitian in a car accident.
The accident is a catalyst for a systematic round-up of Haitians, ostensibly for repatriation but in fact a prelude to slaughter.
Amabelle, caught up in the chaos and confusion, returns to Haiti after much hardship to make a new life, but is for years uncertain of the fate of her lover, Sebastian, and haunted by a nagging sense of guilt. A powerful, fiercely economical and deceptively moving work, blending historical accuracy with lyrical brilliance.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 320 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 06/04/2000
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780349111636
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Review by DeltaQueen50
The Farming of the Bones by Edwidge Danticat was a surprising and eye-opening read for me. My first clue that this was going to take me somewhere that I would be uncomfortable to read about was when I realized the setting of this book was the Dominican Republic in 1937. Then I read of Generalissimo Trujillo, who I knew as the dictator who was responsible for the deaths of over 50,000 people. Yet this story opened gently, told in the words of the main character Amabelle Desir and gives no hint of the violence that is to come.The story overall is subtle and understated and builds slowly. This author writes of horrific events that came to be known as the Parsley Massacre in a sparse way yet vividly conveys the shock, disbelief and fear that was felt as Amabelle stumbles through this time of terror, searching for her loved ones and making her escape to Haiti.The Farming of the Bones is a story of loss and grief. I felt that this was a very personal novel for the author as it projected a feeling of giving evidence or bearing witness. For me, I found this story to be a hauntingly beautiful written example of man’s constant inhumanity to man.