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Word Count: 751
Towards the end of Edwidge Danticats new novel The Farming of Bones a man says Famous men never truly die It is only those nameless and faceless who vanish like smoke in the early morning air The time is 1937 the place the island which Haiti and The Dominican Republic share Through the eyes of the narrator a Haitian woman named Amabelle working as a domestic servant in the Dominican Republic we have just seen scores of Haitians massacred in an outbreak of pure xenophobic malevolence orchestrated by the Domincan Republics leader General Rafael Trujillo None of those killed is anyone famous nearly all the slaughtered are poor Haitians working as cheap labor in the neighboring country but Amabelles story serves to refute those words spoken about the nameless and faceless of the earth In this book they are remembered and in her story they do have names and faces The Farming of Bones is a term the Haitian field workers use to describe their life of cutting cane While Amabelle is fortunate enough to be working as a household servant to a wealthy Dominican family most of her friends toil for the sugar mill owners They have left Haiti and come to the Dominican Republic because their job prospects at home are even bleaker than in their adopted country And so this book is very much about exile what it means to live in one place and yearn for another Amabelles lover Sebastian says Sometimes the people in the fields when theyre tired and angry they say were an orphaned peopleThey say we are the burnt crud at the bottom of the pot They say some people dont belong anywhere and thats us I say we are a group of vwayaje wayfarers Not only the poor and desperate for work are living in exile so is the patriach of the household Amabelle lives in Born in Spain to a comfortable family
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