Laurent Dubois on the state of Haiti in 2004

Laurent Dubois: Edwidge Danticat's book culminates in 2004 at a moment of intense conflict in Haiti, and this is the year when, you know, somewhat, quite tragically—and in fact, this is 2004, is the 200th anniversary of the Haitian independence, 1804. So people had hoped, and it was meant to be a time, of celebrating the achievements of Haiti, but it's a time of intense political conflict essentially surrounding the President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was ultimately overthrown in 2004 and goes into exile. At that time, the kind of political conflict over the presidency is spilling into or is becoming part and parcel of life in a lot of neighborhoods and Port-au-Prince. So, different groups taking different political sides, and also just kind of increasing militarization and arming of groups. And that's the background to the migration and the story that Edwidge tells in this book and is something that is depicted really beautifully in those pages. It's one of the things about that book that's marvelous, is so important, is to depict that particular moment, which did affect so much in Haitian politics.

Laurent Dubois, professor at Duke University, discusses the state of Haiti in 2004 as it pertains to the book Brother, I'm Dying.