Claire of the Sea Light

Claire of the Sea Light

This Sunday at 2 p.m. in Room 2B, join our Booksplus discussion about Edwidge Danticat’s Claire of the Sea Light.  In honor of Black History month, we will discuss this luminous book set in Haiti just before the cataclysmic earthquake of 2009.

Danticat, who emigrated from Haiti as a child, has won many awards including the MacArthur Award (nicknamed the genius award).

If you like folklore and learning about other cultures, Claire of the Sea Light is the book for you. It tells the tale of a young girl whose mother died just after her daughter’s birth. According to Haitian folklore, this makes Claire a revenan, a child who battled with her mother’s spirit and won.

On each of her birthdays, Nozias, Claire’s father, takes her to visit her mother’s grave. In the cemetery they meet Madam Gaelle, a fabric store owner and wealthy widow in town, who lost her own daughter on the same date as Claire’s birthday.

Since Madam Gaelle nursed the newborn Claire on the night of her birth, Nozias, a fisherman, has offered the woman his child so his daughter will be educated and taken care of in life. But now on her 7th birthday, Claire still remains with her dad.

The book is set in the fishing village of Ville Rose that is so richly described that it feels like a character. And in each chapter, another resident of the village tells his or her story. Several of them are connected to the radio station, including young Bernard, who is jailed for murder and Louise, the talk show host, who publicly broadcasts many private stories.

Storytelling is at the heart of this evocative novel. As her fellow novelist, Tim O’Brien, described it: “My life is storytelling. I believe in stories, in their incredible power to keep people alive, to keep the living alive, and the dead.”

Please join us for this discussion.