Craft Talk: bow and make yourself vulnerable

Nothing is more affecting than a love story set against harsh conditions, such as the landscape in The Farming of Bones, by Edwidge Danticat. The intimacy, tenderness, and purity that comes through in the first four pages of the book, for instance, is so gripping despite Amabelle and Sebastien’s romance not culminating into a Hollywood ending. There is something magical about the way Amabelle describes Sebastien on the opening page: “He is lavishly handsome by the dim light . . . even though cane stalks have ripped apart most of the skin on his shiny black face.”

Having grown up on romance novels in which men’s appeal largely hinges on wealth and power, it is refreshing to come across a strong male figure who manages to charm without the aid of rank or riches.

Someone once told me that when you approach the reader, you have to bow and make yourself vulnerable. I believe this is what Danticat has done with this book. Her main characters are underdogs, yet their frailty— their humility, is their strength, and their triumph.

The Farming of Bones is the go-to book for writers looking to create characters whose simplicity works to reveal the complexity of their existence.


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