Review: 'Everything Inside,' By Edwidge Danticat : NPR

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In her 2017 book, The Art of Death, Edwidge Danticat recalls a Haitian Creole phrase her late mother used to repeat: "Nou tout a p mache ak sèkèy nou anba bra nou." It can be translated one of two ways, Danticat wrote: "We're all carrying our coffins with us every day," or "We are all constantly cheating death." Loss and grief are notoriously difficult themes for any writer to tackle successfully, but Danticat has made them centerpieces of her fiction and nonfiction for more than 20 years. In her newest book, the short story collection Everything Inside, she explores how people come to terms with death, both their loved ones' and their own. It's a stunning collection that features some of the best writing of Danticat's brilliant career. The collection's second story, "In the Old Days," follows Nadia, a New York high school teacher who learns that her father is dying in his Miami home. She has never met her dad, and her mother has recently told her that he was unaware of his daughter's existence until recently. Nadia is initially reluctant to visit her father: "How could he have wanted me to be part of his final rites when he'd been absent from my first?" she wonders.