The Farming Of Bones, a review

The Farming of the Bones by Edwidge Danticat broke my heart as a read.Haiti and Haitian culture has always fascinated me. I have also had at times extensive interest in the DR as well. The book is told through the view of a young Haitian woman living in the Domincan Republic during the 1937 Parsley Massacre of Haitians and Afro Dominicans by Dominicans. Amabelle as she is known is the faithful maid, servant and midwife to a prominent Dominican army family whose life is torn upside down literally over the course of a day. I’ve read Ms. Danticat’s work previously and she always speaks with so much emotion, so much description, so much soul. She gives you pieces of Haiti and Haitian culture but retains enough detachment where you as a non Haitian presumably know you can never understand it all. All the many nuances and nicks of this rich culture. Her work is often painful and Farming of Bones is no different. It just reads so human. I think that is what she tries to convey often. Not a fantastical view, no special outer worldliness. The mundane , ordinary that moves people , that spurs us into action, the crazy situations we must navigate as life.

I had read about the Parsley Massacre previously and I have read much about the relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I am an outsider and so my opinion is rather irrelevant but damn if the DR doesn’t come off looking real fucked up sometimes. It can read as a very Rwanda-esque sort of situation ,people with so much cultural similarities, history and religion who have this ongoing never resolved beef. Unfortunately Haiti hasn’t been able to build itself up as much as its’ sister and it makes for a very tense situation ripe for exploitation and anti Blackness. That history is so prominent. All the violence, all the poverty, all the migrant situations are products of neo colonialism, of old colonialism and white supremacy by any means. You read the history and contemporary and people have to do better. That said ,capitalism, income disparity, entrenched fucked up systems allow these things to never change, for history to repeat itself. The othering of those without a voice allows their suffering to be in silence. May Haiti and all impoverished nations rise up ! The world has so much to learn from you , so many offenses that need to be reckoned with.

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