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The Brown Girl World: Amabelle's Story

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
 "Amabelle do you think my daughter will always be the color she is now?" Senora Valencia asked. "My poor love, what if she's mistaken for one of your people?"  - An excerpt from The Farming of Bones, a novel by Edwidge Danticat.  The Dominican Republic and Haiti. Two countries sharing the same island—one poor, the other poorer. For decades, Haitians attempting to escape their country's abject poverty have streamed into the Dominican Republic to work as laborers in the sugarcane fields or as domestic help. In 1937, longstanding hostility between the two countries erupted, and Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo Molina decreed the slaughter of all Haitians on Dominican land. This is the historical backdrop for The Farming of BonesAmabelle, the fictional heroine of Danticat's haunting novel and her lover Sebastien are two Haitian laborers who find themselves caught in the massacre of 1937. Amabelle—orphaned at a young age when her parents drowned in the river that separates the two countries—is a housekeeper for Señora Valencia and her husband General Pico, who is supremely devoted to Generalissimo Trujillo. Sebastien cuts cane, the act from which Danticat draws the title of her book. It is called "the farming of the bones" because after a day in the searing heat of the fields, anticipating snakes and rats, brushing up against the razor sharp edges of the cane, the workers find their skin is shredded, their bones closer to the surface than the day before.  Read more here.



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