Hyunseok Shim ’08

Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat urged young artists to “create dangerously for people who read dangerously” during a talk March 25 about the need for art in the face of political oppression. Danticat, a two-time National Book Award finalist, told how a Haitian book group secretly staged a production of Camus’ “Caligula” in 1964 in response to political executions carried out by the government of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Danticat told the audience of about 300 in Richardson Auditorium that young Haitians who had been forced to witness the executions needed “convincing that art could still be created in their circumstances — especially in their circumstances,” and she described the group’s impact on her own work. Comparing the risk taken by politically repressed performers and audience members to that taken by Eve in the Garden of Eden, Danticat asked: “How does she find the courage to take the bite, open the book?” “She finds it,” continued Danticat, “in the writer’s courage.” The talk, the second annual Toni Morrison Lecture, was sponsored jointly by the Center for African American Studies and Princeton University Press.