Reviews for Everything Inside: Stories

by Edwidge Danticat

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

In her first collection of short stories in more than a decade, Danticat tackles the complexities of diaspora with lyrical grace.Danticat (The Art of Death, 2017, etc.) is a master of economy; she has always possessed the remarkable ability to build singular fictional worlds in a matter of sentences. This collection draws on Danticat's exceptional strengths as a storyteller to examine how migration to and from the Caribbean shapes her characters, whether they're scrounging up savings to pay ransom for a kidnapping, navigating youthful idealism and the pull of international aid work, or trying to erase the horrors of immigrating to the United States by sea. In "Dosas," Elsie, a home health care worker in Miami Shores, is shocked by a panicked phone call from her ex-husband about his new girlfriend's kidnapping in Port-au-Prince. What becomes increasingly clear, however, is that Elsie's ex-husband is a two-timing scammer who has derailed Elsie's life in more ways than one. With great care, Danticat demonstrates the razor's edge on which Elsie's own financial and emotional security is balanced: from the sacrifices she makes to send Blaise money to her fears about the safety of her own family. "Maybe there was something about her that wasn't enough," Elsie thinks, as she reconsiders her marriage. "Or something about him that wasn't enough....Some people just want to go home, no matter what the cost." When two former lovers meet for dinner on the Fourth of July in "The Gift," they struggle to reconnect across a yawning chasm of loss caused by the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti in 2010. And, in "Without Inspection," an undocumented construction worker hurtles to his death from rickety scaffolding, imagining final visitations with his lover and adopted son. These are stories of lives upended by tragedies big and small, from political coups to closely guarded maternal secrets. Throughout each story, Danticat attends to the ways families are made and unmade: Mothers yearn for children, women recover from divorce, and aging parents suffer from dementia or succumb to death. No one is immune from pain, but Danticat asks her readers to witness the integrity of her subjects as they excavate beauty and hope from uncertainty and loss.An extraordinary career milestone: spare, evocative, and moving. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Families fracture and reform in Danticat’s outstanding and deeply memorable story collection. Set among the Haitian “dyaspora” including Miami, New York, and Haiti itself, the tales describe the complicated lives of people who live in one place but are drawn elsewhere. The American children of immigrants discover that their lives have been shaped by their parents’ Haitian pasts, as in the touching, funny “In the Old Days,” when a New York high school teacher learns that her absent father, who divorced her mother and returned to Haiti, is dying, and rushes to meet him. In the book’s standout story, “Sunrise, Sunset,” a woman with dementia struggles to impart the lessons of motherhood to her own daughter: “You are always saying hello to them while preparing them to say goodbye to you.” And the charming “Hot Air Balloons” follows two college freshmen—Neah, the child of academics, and Lucy, the daughter of migrant farm workers—as each comes to her own understanding of Haiti, a place of “idyllic beaches” and “dewy mountaintops,” as well as corruption and poverty, where girls are “recruited for orgies with international aid workers.” In plain, propulsive prose, and with great compassion, Danticat writes both of her characters’ losses and of their determination to continue: “There are loves that outlive lovers.” 50,000-copy announced first printing. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi, Inc. (Aug.)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Following The Art of Death (2017), a reflection on her mother's passing and writing, Danticat focuses this haunting eight-story collection on, well, death. Looming death becomes a bargaining chip in Dosas, when an ex-husband begs his ex-wife to help save her kidnapped replacement, and in In the Old Days, when an adult daughter is summoned to the final bedside of her never-met-before father. Survivors navigate new lives in The Gift, which portrays an artist who lost her lover's baby, and her lover, who has lost his wife and young daughter, and in Seven Stories, in which a prime minister's wife and daughter persevere after his assassination. Fatal illness causes a living death in The Port-au-Prince Marriage Special, a tale about a young woman diagnosed with AIDS, and in Sunrise, Sunset, with an aging woman succumbing to memory loss, while inhumane brutality has a similar effect on the Haitian rape victims a privileged U.S. teen encounters as a recovery center volunteer in Hot Air Balloons. In the final story, a Haitian refugee recalls his life in 6.5 seconds as he plummets to his death. Danticat once again urges readers out of comfort zones to bear witness to urgent topics refugee crises, polarizing inequity, violence, disasters and alchemizes sorrows and tragedies into opportunities for literary enlightenment.--Terry Hong Copyright 2019 Booklist

Back