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Women To Watch: Trend Tracker® Tara Gilani With Edwidge Danticat

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Trend Tracker® Tara Gilani caught up with Edwidge Danticat, a beloved prize winning author well-known for her poignant novels that go beyond the page, often touching the hearts and souls of her readers.

Danticat, from Haiti, met up with Gilani at Books & Books, a popular, local, independent book store in downtown Coral Gables.

Three of Danticat’s best-known novels are: “Krik? Krak!,” “Breath, Eyes, Memory,” (an Oprah Book Club selection), and “The Dew Breaker.”

Danticat’s latest book, “Claire of the Sea Light,” has received rave reviews from top writers and publications.

The conversation between Gilani and Danticat was vibrant—just like the stories she tells.

Danticat, author of 12 books, writes powerfully about life in her beloved country of birth—Haiti.

The title of Danticat’s popular novel, “Krick? Krack!,” was explained to Gilani during their meeting.

“It’s part of story-telling tradition,” said Danticat. “When a storyteller says ‘Krik,’ the audience says ‘Krack!’

The translation is simply, “tell me a story,” which is present in the collection of stories. Consistent throughout the tales are three themes: Haiti, family, and immigration.

“We’re all related by blood. When you throw into that the complications of immigration—which is also something my work focuses on—it’s extraordinary. All the layers of relationships that develop,” said Danticat.

The Washington Post described the author as “A writer you can trust. Edwidge Danticat has a style of extraordinary restraint and dignity.”

Gilani couldn’t agree more, and found her demeanor just as magical and riveting as her novels.

“You are who you love, she told him. Love is like kerosene. The more you have, the more you burn,” said Danticat as she read a few of her own words during the interview.

Danticat is interested and often explores how people connect, and reconnect.

“I’m very interested in how people reconnect their lives after very long periods of trials and upheavals and all these things that take our lives apart and then—how we reconnect them,” Danticat explained.

The characters in Danticat’s books transcend the novel, often becoming alive and human to the reader.

“A good storyteller is able to put someone in the skin of the person,” said Danticat. “At the moment you are hearing or reading the story you are able to experience that person’s humanity as your own. This makes us better citizens because you are able to know, whatever race you are, what it’s like to be someone of another race or gender, to know what it’s like to have suffered something that is alien to you.”

One of Danticat’s early novels, “Breath, Eyes, Memory” was chosen as an Oprah Book Club selection in May 1998—an honor she describes as “extraordinary.”

“It was an extraordinary thing. It brought me an audience I would never expected to have,” said Danticat. “Some of the readers are still with me. It allowed certain possibilities for my family and my extended family. It was—and still is—wonderful.”

Danticat described Oprah as “incredible,” giving her credit for leading people to books.

A philosophy for Danticat is “love what you do” and that’s exactly what she does.

“I love writing so much it doesn’t feel like work to me. If you’re able to do something that you love then it feels like play all the time,” said Danticat.

Gilani, in the spirit of women, asked Danticat for the best way for women to help other women.

“By supporting their work and their visions,” said Danticat. “And for making room at the table, by opening doors and breaking those glass ceilings ahead of them.” And when Gilani asked the author what she wishes for, she responded, “I wish for every young girl the same opportunities that I have had.”

At the end of their meeting, Gilani asked Danticat one of her favorite questions, “What would you like engraved on your tombstone?” to which she responded, “She was loved. Not by the whole world, but by the people who mattered.”

Danticat’s next project is a book geared toward young people.

For more about the writer, follow Edwidge on her Facebook www.facebook.com/EdwidgeDanticat. To find more great authors like Danticat, visit Books & Books or follow them on Facebook and Twitter, @BooksandBooks.

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