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2018-2019 KU Common Book 

Cover of Create Dangerously

In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile.
Inspired by Albert Camus and adapted from her own lectures for Princeton University’s Toni Morrison Lecture Series, here Danticat tells stories of artists who create despite (or because of) the horrors that drove them from their homelands. Combining memoir and essay, these moving and eloquent pieces examine what it means to be an artist from a country in crisis.

(Material provided by Penguin Random House)


Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat is the author of numerous books, including Claire of the Sea Light, a New York Times notable book; Brother, I’m Dying, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and National Book Award finalist; Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She lives in Miami.


We are pleased to announce that Edwidge Danticat will be on campus to deliver the 2018-2019 KU Common Book talk on Thursday, September 6 at 7:00 pm in the Lied Center.

(Material provided by Penguin Random House)


Notes from the Selection Committee

A selection committee comprised of students, faculty, and staff read and review books nominated by the KU community and forward recommendations to the Chancellor.

Create Dangerously, by the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, the Story Prize, MacArthur Genius Award, and a finalist for several National Book Awards), stands as a powerfully relevant selection for the 2018 Common Book. As our nation continues to grapple with issues of social justice, immigration and questions of belonging, Danticat sheds light on the variety of forms that activism and political involvement can take in her exploration of the intersections between art and exile. Inspired by French philosopher and novelist Albert Camus, Danticat tells stories of artists who use their different media to create, in spite of—and sometimes because of—the trauma that compelled them to flee from their native lands. With great insight, emotional depth, and eloquence, she interrogates what it means to be an artist who works to bring about social change and awareness. She also explores what it means to be a citizen. Dave Eggers calls Create Dangerously, “The most powerful book I’ve read in years” and “A call to arms for all immigrants, all artists, all those who choose to bear witness, and all those who choose to listen.” The New York Times Book Review describes the book as lyrical and “tender”: “a singular achievement […] about loss and the unquenchable passion for homeland.”

Adapted from a series of lectures initially given at Princeton University, Create Dangerously will provide incoming KU students with the opportunity to enter important conversations on community involvement, creative expression, giving voice to the voiceless, and self-examination. It also has the potential to highlight KU’s leadership in the field of Haitian Studies: the University is one of the very few in the nation to offer Haitian Kreyòl as a foreign language of instruction, and the Spencer Museum of Art possesses a rich selection of Haitian art in its holdings. The ability to open readers’ eyes to the vibrancy of Haitian culture and the range of Haitian experiences is significant in light of recent public comments denigrating that nation, and the tendency of U.S. audiences to see it solely in terms of devastation and dependency. Danticat’s book stresses the value of resilience—one that is crucial to success in a range of endeavors, and especially for college students. In all of these ways, Create Dangerously appeals to a wide audience and showcases the University of Kansas’ core values.


Requesting a Review Copy

We have a limited number of copies available for those interested in using Create Dangerously in their classrooms. Due to high demand, we are only able to provide one book per instructor. To request a review copy, please email with the following information:

  • Name of instructor of record
  • Department
  • Course name
  • Course number
  • How do you anticipate using the book in your course?
Departments interested in ordering copies of Create Dangerously may do so at a discounted rate through the KU Bookstore. For more information, please contact:
Mike Engel, Book Buyer, KU Bookstore


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