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Haitian-born Edwidge Danticat (author of the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory) immigrated to the U.S. at age 12; all but two stories in her new collection, Krik? Krak!, take place on bloodied Haitian soil. Although Danticat takes her title from the traditional question “krik?” answered “krak!” by a storyteller, there’s scant whimsy or escapist fantasy here; Danticat juxtaposes the exhaustion of her characters with the dangerous magic of folktales—black butterflies that are messengers of mortality, women jailed on suspicion of witchcraft. The best of these nine tales have a desperate immediacy, bearing witness to tragic moments among laborers’ families, refugees, or prisoners. Danticat reads at 6 p.m. at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 429-9272; and 7 p.m. tomorrow at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 364-1919. (Nathalie op de Beeck)