The last time Edwidge Danticat had a short story published in The New Yorker was just before we started covering the magazine’s fiction on this site; on November 24, 2008, her story “Ghosts,” which takes place in a Haitian slum, appeared in the magazine. I remember admiring that story a lot, and it may have been one of the reasons I decided to start covering the magazine in 2009. That said, I don’t recall ever having read anything else by Danticat, though her name is certainly familiar.
In “Sunrise, Sunset,” we first meet Carole, an older woman who grew up knowing, she thinks when comparing her life to her daughter, Jeanne, “real tragedy”:
Growing up in a country ruled by a merciless dictator, Carole watched her neighbors being dragged out of their houses by the dictator’s denim-uniformed henchmen. One of her aunts was beaten almost to death for throwing herself in front of her husband as he was being arrested. Her mother’s only means of survival was cleaning the houses of people who were barely able to pay her.
Carole has since migrated to the United States from Haiti, raising her family under better circumstances. Now, though, a new tragedy is beginning: she is started to lose her memories to dementia at just the time when her Jeanne is beginning her trek into motherhood.
The story moves back and forth between the two, offering their accounts of what’s going on, of the trials they are going through, and how that affects their relationships.
I’m anxious to hear how folks feel about it below! Please feel free to comment on the story or on Danticat in general.