Many thanks to Peter Jordens for sharing an excerpt from a 12-minute video in which Peter Slen of CSPAN2’s Book TV interviews Edwidge Danticat about her latest book, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (Graywolf Press, 2017). She speaks about some of the authors that she had read and explored, and who inspired her to write on the topics of life and death, such as Christopher Hitchens. This interview took place at the 2017 Miami Book Fair. Excerpt:
PS: To sum up, what is the art of death?
ED: The art of death is very different for many people. I was addressing it as a writer, as someone narrating a very personal experience. But the art of death, in the end, I think, is the art of life: seeing death as a part of life, knowing that we are going to die, and living the best life we can. Life and death are inseparable and we are blessed to be able to have the best of both.
PS: Are there cultural differences when it comes to the mysticism of death?
ED: Absolutely. We live in a very secular culture here. Death is really outsourced; we outsource it to the funeral home. In my own lifetime I have gone through a process where I have had elders in my family who died and stayed at home and their wake was in the house; my aunt, when she died, we went and bathed her body; and later generations turned it over to the funeral home: you show up and you see that others have dressed up the person in the coffin. Every culture has its own way of preparing and also of accepting death. I think a lot of it also has to do with what we believe happens after, which is sometimes either religious or cultural.
For full article, see https://www.c-span.org/video/?436774-36/edwidge-danticat-discusses-art-death