Reading Edwidge Danticat’s novel Claire of the Sea Light is like swimming through a gentle tide in a body of water known for riptides. The feeling that something invisible, fierce, and irreparable is just under the surface never quite leaves the corner of the reader’s mind.
The story traces relational ties in Ville Rose, a small coastal village town in Haiti.
When the last remnants of Operation Uphold Democracy—a UN peacekeeping force but predominantly American for much of its duration—left Haiti a few weeks ago, some observers voiced dire predictions of a descent into chaos and civil war. Time will tell. But others argued that the situation could hardly be worse than it is.
After a five-month absence, parts of Port-au-Prince looked marginally better than when I had last seen the city in February. At least some debris from the January 12 earthquake had been removed. But generally, the city seemed at a standstill.
After having been buried for a week in the rubble of Haiti’s January 12 earthquake, Ena Zizi was rescued by the Gophers. As they pulled her dirty and injured body out on a broken piece of plywood salvaged from the rubble and carefully passed her down over three stories of debris to the ground, the 70-year-old woman began singing.
The initial humanitarian response to the January 12 earthquake in Haiti has been impressive. Within weeks, Americans pledged over $500 million to the relief effort, almost equaling their response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It’s been estimated that half of all American families have donated to Haiti relief.