2015 Summer Reading Assignment
“Brother, I’M Dying” by Edwidge Danticat
The 2015 new student book selection is “Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat.
From the age of four, Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph, a charismatic pastor, as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for a better life in America. Listening to his sermons, sharing coconut-flavored ices on their walks through town, roaming through the house that held together many members of a colorful extended family, Edwidge grew profoundly attached to Joseph. He was the man who “knew all the verses for love.”
And so she experiences a jumble of emotions when, at twelve, she joins her parents in New York City. She is at last reunited with her two youngest brothers, and with her mother and father, whom she has struggled to remember. But she must also leave behind Joseph and the only home she’s ever known.
Edwidge tells of making a new life in a new country while fearing for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorates. But Brother I’m Dying soon becomes a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. Late in 2004, his life threatened by an angry mob, forced to flee his church, the frail, eighty-one-year-old Joseph makes his way to Miami, where he thinks he will be safe. Instead, he is detained by U.S. Customs, held by the Department of Homeland Security, brutally imprisoned, and dead within days. It was a story that made headlines around the world. His brother, Mira, will soon join him in death, but not before he holds hope in his arms: Edwidge’s firstborn, who will bear his name—and the family’s stories, both joyous and tragic—into the next generation.
Told with tremendous feeling, this is a true-life epic on an intimate scale: a deeply affecting story of home and family—of two men’s lives and deaths, and of a daughter’s great love for them both.
Summer Read Program: Faculty Panel for New Students
Saturday, August 29
Three Whitman professors will share unique, discipline-specific perspectives on the Summer Read Program 2015 book selection, ”Brother, I’m Dying.” This session will provide new students with a brief introduction to the intellectual community at Whitman and serve as a springboard for book discussions to follow.
Thursday, September 10
Author Edwidge Danticat will be on campus Thursday, September 10 to attend several classes, have lunch with students, and speak to the campus community. New students are expected to attend this lecture.