Writers rally for Haiti

Edwidge Danticat and Simon Winchester appeal for help to Haiti.

For many US readers, there is no face more connected with the island nation of Haiti than that of Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat. In the days and hours since Haiti's devastating earthquake, Ms. Danticat has been speaking out from Miami about the great need for world and individual help to her birth-nation.

Danticat, author of novels such as "Breath, Eyes, Memory" and "The Dewbreaker," in addition to her family memoir "Brother, I Am Dying," was born in Haiti but grew up largely in the US. However, she still has family ties in Haiti and remains a powerful advocate for that country. Since Tuesday's earthquake she has given interviews from Miami to both the The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio. She says she has been able to reach her mother-in-law by phone but adds that most of what seems to be coming out of Haiti right now are "layers of bad news." She refers to the earthquake as "an apocalypse for this small and often tried country."

At the same time, in New York, Idlewild Books has announced that writer and geologist Simon Winchester (author of "A Crack in the Edge of the World") will speak about the earthquake in Haiti at the Manhattan store on Tuesday, Jan. 19. A disaster relief worker from the United Nations will also address the audience and all proceeds from the talk (there is a $10 suggested donation for attendees) will go to relief efforts, as well the money from the sale of any of Winchester's books and all fiction and nonfiction books in Idlewild's section on Haiti.

One gathering of writers that is not expected to take place, however, is the international conference of writers that had been scheduled to meet today in Haiti to discuss literature. About 50 authors had been expected to attend.

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor’s book editor. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/MarjorieKehe

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