Edwidge Danticat (pronounced: Dahn-tee-kah; born January 19, 1969) is a Haitian-born American author.
Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When she was two years old, her father André immigrated to New York from Haiti, to be followed two years later by her mother Rose. This left Danticat and her younger brother Eliab to be raised by her aunt and uncle. Although her formal education in Haiti was in French, she spoke Haitian Kréyòl at home.
While still in Haiti, Danticat wrote her first short story about a girl who was visited by a clan of women each night. At the age of 12, she moved to Brooklyn, New York to join her parents in a heavily Haitian American neighborhood. As an immigrant teenager Edwidge's accent and upbringing were a source of discomfort for her, thus she turned to literature for solace. Two years later she published her first writing, in English, A Haitian-American Christmas: Cremace and Creole Theatre, in New Youth Connections, a citywide magazine written by teenagers. She later wrote a story about her immigration experience for New Youth Connections, "A New World Full of Strangers." In the introduction to Starting With I, an anthology of stories from the magazine, Danticat wrote, “When I was done with the [immigration] piece, I felt that my story was unfinished, so I wrote a short story, which later became a book, my first novel: Breath, Eyes, Memory…. Writing for New Youth Connections had given me a voice. My silence was destroyed completely, indefinitely.”
After graduating from Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn, New York, Danticat entered Barnard College in New York City. Initially she had intended on studying to become a teacher but her love of writing won out and she received a BA in French literature. In 1993, she earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University—her thesis, titled "My turn in the fire - an abridged novel", was the basis for her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, which was published by Soho Press in 1994. Four years later it became an Oprah's Book Club selection.
Since completing her Master's Degree, Danticat has taught creative writing at both New York University and the University of Miami. She has also worked with filmmakers Patricia Benoit and Jonathan Demme on projects on Haitian art and documentaries about Haïti. Her short stories, e.g. New York Day Woman, have appeared in over 25 periodicals and have been anthologized several times. Her work has been translated into numerous other languages including French, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.
Danticat is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.