Edwidge Danticat on rejoining her parents in the U.S.
Jo Reed: When you were 12, when your parents sent for you and your brother.
Edwidge Danticat: Yes. It was March when my brother and I first arrived in New York. It felt cold to us. It was March 21st around 1981. I remember because it was the day before one of my brothers' birthdays. We got to the airport and I just remember being just awestruck by the vastness of the city. Like, it just, and an odd thought to me was, "Oh, there's so many lights on and they never turn off." I was really dazzled by the lights of Brooklyn, which I thought was just this incredible country. I thought, "Brooklyn is a great country." It was so vast. I spoke no English. My uncle had this morning ritual where he would play this Berlitz record while he was doing his stretches, so exercising in the morning. And he would practice phrases because part of my uncle's work was often greeting missionaries who came to Haiti to visit the church and he always wanted us to know a few words and to greet them, to understand if they said a few words to us. So, I knew, from my uncle's lessons, I knew "Good morning," "How are you," and just a few phrases, but I was far from fluent. We started school right away. There was briefly some debate in my house between my parents about whether we should wait, because it was already March, to start in the fall. But my dad said no. We went to school the following Monday after our arrival because he wanted us to start on a Monday. And he said, "Well, you know, these couple of weeks, then you can pick up a few things and then go to summer school." So I started school right away.
Author Edwidge Danticat discusses rejoining her parents in the U.S. for the book Brother, I'm Dying.