Edwidge Danticat (Haiti-1969) moved to New York City at age 12 to join her parents. From a very early age she showed an interest and talent for writing. Upon graduation from college she taught creative writing at New York University and The University of Miami. In 2009 she received the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award. Her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory was a selection of Oprah's book club in 1998. Her short stories have been published all over the world and translated into twenty five languages.
"Ghosts" is set in one of poorest parts of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. To place matters in perspective, The World Bank lists the USA as the richest country, followed by China and Japan, then European countries. The Philippines is number 35 on the list and Haiti is number 136. "Ghosts" gives us a look at the life and hopes of some young people in the worst part of Haiti.
The story opens with an account of a nation wide art show for children 10 to 13. 100s of children depicted in their drawings young soldiers (I guess there are no old ones) holding M16 rifles or headless bodies.
Our lead character is a young Pascal.
Pascal’s parents were shop owners and restaurateurs in Bel Air. They had a slightly larger yard than most of their crammed-in neighbors, so they had closed it off with sheets of rusty corrugated metal, and there, at four long wooden tables beneath a string of light bulbs which dangled from a second-story clostra-block window, they served up to thirty customers per night, if the turnover was fast. They sold rice and beans, of course, and fried plantains and cornmeal, but their specialty, for a long time, was fried pigeon meat.The area where Pascal and his family live is more or less controlled by a gang of young men. The story is about the very brave struggle of the parents to give their children a change to rise above the horrible poverty and early death or drug addiction that is the fate of many of the young people. We see his father rise up in status as he acquires a pick up truck. We feel the very strong atmosphere of fear created by the domination of the gangs.
Some positive things happen for Pascal. The story can be read in just a few minutes and I think most readers will be glad they experienced it. "Ghosts" is a very good story about the power of the human spirit. It is for sure worth the few minutes it will take you to read it.
It can be found in the archives of The New Yorker HERE