Memoir

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Dear Senthuran: A Black spirit memoir
Emezi, Akwaeke. Dear Senthuran: A Black spirit memoir. New York: Riverhead Books, 2021. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"In three critically acclaimed novels, Akwaeke Emezi has introduced readers to a landscape marked by familial tensions, Igbo belief systems, and a boundless search for what it means to be free. Now, in this extraordinary memoir, the bestselling author of The Death of Vivek Oji reveals the harrowing yet resolute truths of their own life. Through candid, intimate correspondence with friends, lovers, and family, Emezi traces the unfolding of a self and the unforgettable journey of a creative spirit stepping into power in the human world. Their story weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, their precipitous path to success as a writer, and the turmoil of relationships on an emotional, romantic, and spiritual plane, culminating in a book that is as tender as it is brutal. Electrifying and inspiring, animated by the same voracious intelligence that distinguishes Emezi's fiction, Dear Senthuran is a revelatory account of storytelling, self, and survival." - Publisher description.
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Horses, Horses, In the End the Light Remains Pure: A Tale that Begins with Fukushima
Furukawa, Hideo, Douglas Slaymaker, and Akiko Takenaka. Horses, Horses, In the End the Light Remains Pure: A Tale that Begins with Fukushima. Weatherhead books on Asia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure is a multifaceted literary response to the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown that devastated northeast Japan on March 11, 2011. The novel is narrated by Hideo Furukawa, who travels back to his childhood home near Fukushima after 3/11 to reconnect with a place that is now doubly alien. His ruminations conjure the region's storied past, particularly its thousand-year history of horses, humans, and the struggle with a rugged terrain. Standing in the morning light, these horses also tell their stories, heightening the sense of liberation, chaos, and loss that accompanies Furukawa's rich recollections. A fusion of fiction, history, and memoir."--Syndetics.

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Mean Little Deaf Queer: A Memoir
Galloway, Terry. Mean Little Deaf Queer: A Memoir. Boston: Beacon Press, 2009. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"In 1959, the year Terry Galloway turned nine, the voices of everyone she loved began to disappear. No one yet knew that an experimental antibiotic given to her mother had wreaked havoc on her fetal nervous system, eventually causing her to go deaf. Galloway has used theater, whether onstage or off, to defy and transcend her reality. With disarming candor, she writes about her mental breakdowns, her queer identity, and living in a silent, quirky world populated by unforgettable characters. What could have been a bitter litany of complaint is instead an unexpectedly hilarious and affecting take on life."

Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago
Gartz, Linda. Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago. Berkeley, CA: She Writes Press, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, Redlined exposes the racist lending rules that refuse mortgages to anyone in areas with even one black resident. As blacks move deeper into Chicago's West Side during the 1960s, whites flee by the thousands. But Linda Gartz's parents, Fred and Lil choose to stay in their integrating neighborhood, overcoming previous prejudices as they meet and form friendships with their African American neighbors. The community sinks into increasing poverty and crime after two race riots destroy its once vibrant business district, but Fred and Lil continue to nurture their three apartment buildings and tenants for the next twenty years in a devastated landscape–even as their own relationship cracks and withers. After her parents' deaths, Gartz discovers long-hidden letters, diaries, documents, and photos stashed in the attic of her former home. Determined to learn what forces shattered her parents' marriage and undermined her community, she searches through the family archives and immerses herself in books on racial change in American neighborhoods. Told through the lens of Gartz's discoveries of the personal and political, Redlined delivers a riveting story of a community fractured by racial turmoil, an unraveling and conflicted marriage, a daughter's fight for sexual independence, and an up-close, intimate view of the racial and social upheavals of the 1960s."– Provided by publisher.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
Gay, Roxane. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. New York: Harper, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls 'wildly undisciplined.' She casts an insightful and critical eye over her childhood, teens, and twenties -- including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point at age 12 -- and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life. With candor, vulnerability, and authority, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen."
I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir
Gharib, Malaka, and Toby Leigh. I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"I Was Their American Dream is at once a coming-of-age story and a reminder of the thousands of immigrants who come to America in search for a better life for themselves and their children. The daughter of parents with unfulfilled dreams themselves, Malaka navigated her childhood chasing her parents' ideals, learning to code-switch between her family's Filipino and Egyptian customs, adapting to white culture to fit in, crushing on skater boys, and trying to understand the tension between holding onto cultural values and trying to be an all-American kid. Malaka Gharib's triumphant graphic memoir brings to life her teenage antics and illuminates earnest questions about identity and culture, while providing thoughtful insight into the lives of modern immigrants and the generation of millennial children they raised. Malaka's story is a heartfelt tribute to the American immigrants who have invested their future in the promise of the American dream."–Amazon
Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else
Giménez Smith, Carmen. Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else. Camino del sol. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"How does a contemporary woman with a career as a poet, professor, and editor experience motherhood with one small child, another soon to be born, and her own mother suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor and Alzheimer’s? The dichotomy between life as a mother and life as an artist and professional is a major theme in modern literature because often the two seem irreconcilable. In Bring Down the Little Birds, Carmen Giménez Smith faces this seeming irreconcilability head-on, offering a powerful and necessary lyric memoir to shed light on the difficulties—and joys—of being a mother juggling work, art, raising children, pregnancy, and being a daughter to an ailing mother, and, perhaps most important, offering a rigorous and intensely imaginative contemplation on the concept of motherhood as such.

Writing in fragmented yet coherent sections, the author shares with us her interior monologue, affording the reader a uniquely honest, insightful, and deeply personal glimpse into a woman’s first and second journeys into motherhood. Giménez Smith begins Bring Down the Little Birds by detailing the relationship with her own mother, from whom her own concept of motherhood originated, a conception the author continually reevaluates and questions over the course of the book.

Combining fragments of thought, daydreams, entries from notebooks both real and imaginary, and real-life experiences, Giménez Smith interrogates everything involved in becoming and being a mother for both the first and second time, from wondering what her children will one day know about her own “secret life” to meditations on the physical effects of pregnancy as well as the myths, the nostalgia, and the glorification of motherhood.

While Giménez Smith incorporates universal experiences of motherhood that other authors have detailed throughout literature, what separates her book from these many others is that her reflections are captured in a style that establishes an intimacy and immediacy between author and reader through which we come to know the secret life of a mother and are made to question our own conception of what motherhood really means."

Autobiography of a Face
Grealy, Lucy. Autobiography of a Face. First Mariner Books edition. Boston: Mariner Books, 2016. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"This powerful memoir is about the premium we put on beauty and on a woman's face in particular. It took Lucy Grealy twenty years of living with a distorted self-image and more than thirty reconstructive procedures before she could come to terms with her appearance after childhood cancer and surgery that left her jaw disfigured. As a young girl, she absorbed the searing pain of peer rejection and the paralyzing fear of never being loved"– provided by publisher.
One More Theory About Happiness: A Memoir
Guest, Paul. One More Theory About Happiness: A Memoir. 1st ed. New York: Ecco, 2011. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"In the tradition of Mark Doty's "Heaven's Coast" comes an original memoir from the acclaimed poet and author about the accident that left him a paraplegic, and his struggle to find independence, love, and a life on his own terms."
Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China
Guo, Xiaolu. Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China. First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition. New York: Grove Press, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Xiaolu Guo is one of the most acclaimed Chinese-born writers of her generation, an iconoclastic and completely contemporary voice. Her vivid, poignant memoir, Nine Continents is the story of a curious mind coming of age in an inhospitable country, and her determination to seek a life beyond the limits of its borders. Xiaolu Guo has traveled further than most to become who she needed to be. Now, as she experiences the birth of her daughter in a London maternity ward surrounded by women from all over the world, she looks back on that journey. It begins in the fishing village shack on the East China Sea where her illiterate grandparents raised her, and brings her to a rapidly changing Beijing, full of contradictions: a thriving underground art scene amid mass censorship, curious Westerners who held out affection only to disappear back home. Eventually Xiaolu determined to see the world beyond China for herself, and now, after fifteen years in Europe, her words resonate with the insight of someone both an outsider and at home, in a world far beyond the country of her birth. Nine Continents presents a fascinating portrait of China in the eighties and nineties, how the Cultural Revolution shaped families, and how the country's economic ambitions gave rise to great change. It is also a moving testament to the birth of a creative spirit, and of a new generation being raised to become citizens of the world. It confirms Xiaolu Guo as one of world literature's most urgent voices."--Provided by publisher.

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We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir
Habib, Samra. We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir. Toronto: Viking, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A queer Muslim searches for the language to express her truest self, making peace with her sexuality, her family, and Islam. Growing up in Pakistan, Samra Habib lacks a blueprint for the life she wants. She has a mother who gave up everything to be a pious, dutiful wife and an overprotective father who seems to conspire against a life of any adventure. Plus, she has to hide the fact that she's Ahmadi to avoid persecution from religious extremists. As the threats against her family increase, they seek refuge in Canada, where new financial and cultural obstacles await them. When Samra discovers that her mother has arranged her marriage, she must again hide a part of herself–the fun-loving, feminist teenager that has begun to bloom–until she simply can't any longer. So begins a journey of self-discovery that takes her to Tokyo, where she comes to terms with her sexuality, and to a queer-friendly mosque in Toronto, where she returns to her faith in the same neighbourhood where she attended her first drag show. Along the way, she learns that the facets of her identity aren't as incompatible as she was led to believe, and that her people had always been there–the world just wasn't ready for them yet."– provided by publisher.
The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir
Harper, Michele. The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir. New York, NY: Riverhead Books, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Michele Harper is a female, African American emergency room physician in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white. Brought up in Washington, D.C., in a complicated family, she went to Harvard, where she met her husband. They stayed together through medical school until two months before she was scheduled to join the staff of a hospital in central Philadelphia, when he told her he couldn’t move with her. Her marriage at an end, Harper began her new life in a new city, in a new job, as a newly single woman.


In the ensuing years, as Harper learned to become an effective ER physician, bringing insight and empathy to every patient encounter, she came to understand that each of us is broken—physically, emotionally, psychically. How we recognize those breaks, how we try to mend them, and where we go from there are all crucial parts of the healing process.

The Beauty in Breaking is the poignant true story of Harper’s journey toward self-healing. Each of the patients Harper writes about taught her something important about recuperation and recovery. How to let go of fear even when the future is murky: How to tell the truth when it’s simpler to overlook it. How to understand that compassion isn’t the same as justice. As she shines a light on the systemic disenfranchisement of the patients she treats as they struggle to maintain their health and dignity, Harper comes to understand the importance of allowing ourselves to make peace with the past as we draw support from the present. In this hopeful, moving, and beautiful book, she passes along the precious, necessary lessons that she has learned as a daughter, a woman, and a physician." - Publisher description.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
Hong, Cathy Park. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning. New York: One World, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Asian Americans inhabit a purgatorial status: neither white enough nor black enough, unmentioned in most conversations about racial identity. In the popular imagination, Asian Americans are all high-achieving professionals. But in reality, this is the most economically divided group in the country, a tenuous alliance of people with roots from South Asia to East Asia to the Pacific Islands, from tech millionaires to service industry laborers. How do we speak honestly about the Asian American condition--if such a thing exists? Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively confronts this thorny subject, blending memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. Binding these essays together is Hong's theory of "minor feelings." As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these "minor feelings" occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality--when you believe the lies you're told about your own racial identity. With sly humor and a poet's searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and artmaking, and to family and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche--and of a writer's search to both uncover and speak the truth"-- Provided by publisher.

A ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian American consciousness and the struggle to be human. Hong blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. She believes that "minor feelings" occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality-- when you believe the lies you're told about your own racial identity. -- adapted from jacket

My Broken Language: A Memoir
Hudes, Quiara Alegría. My Broken Language: A Memoir. New York: One World, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Quiara Alegria Hudes was the sharp-eyed girl on the stairs while her family danced in her grandmother's tight South Philly kitchen, "frizzy hair cut short, bangs teased into stiff clouds, sweat glistening in the summer fog, pamper-butt babies weaving between legs." Quiara was awed by her aunts and uncles and cousins, but haunted by the secrets of the family and the unspoken stories of the barrio – even as she tried to find her own voice in the sea of language around her, written and spoken, English and Spanish, bodies and books, Western art and sacred altars. Her family became her private pantheon, a gathering of powerful orishas with tragic wounds and she vowed to tell their stories–but first she'd have to get off the stairs and join the dance; she'd have to find her langauge. This is an inspired exploration of home, family, memory, and belonging, narrated by the obsessed girl who fought to become an artist so she could capture the world she loved in all its wild and delicate beauty"– provided by publisher.
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Waking up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race
Irving, Debby. Waking up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race. Cambridge, MA: Elephant Room Press, 2014. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one "aha!" moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan. In Waking Up White, Irving tells her often cringe-worthy story with such openness that readers will turn every page rooting for her-and ultimately for all of us."
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Negroland: A Memoir
Jefferson, Margo. Negroland: A Memoir. New York: Vintage Books, 2016. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Pulitzer Prize–winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson was born in 1947 into upper-crust black Chicago. Her father was head of pediatrics at Provident Hospital, while her mother was a socialite. In these pages, Jefferson takes us into this insular and discerning society: "I call it Negroland," she writes, "because I still find 'Negro' a word of wonders, glorious and terrible." Negroland's pedigree dates back generations, having originated with antebellum free blacks who made their fortunes among the plantations of the South. It evolved into a world of exclusive sororities, fraternities, networks, and clubs--a world in which skin color and hair texture were relentlessly evaluated alongside scholarly and professional achievements, where the Talented Tenth positioned themselves as a third race between whites and "the masses of Negros," and where the motto was "Achievement. Invulnerability. Comportment." At once incendiary and icy, mischievous and provocative, celebratory and elegiac, Negroland is a landmark work on privilege, discrimination, and the fallacy of post-racial America."
Say I'm Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love
Johnson, E. Dolores. Say I'm Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Fearful of violating Indiana's anti-miscegenation laws in the 1940s, E. Dolores Johnson's black father and white mother fled Indianapolis to secretly marry. Johnson searched her father's black genealogy and then was amazed to suddenly realize that her mother's whole white side was missing in family history. Johnson went searching for the white family who did not know she existed. When she found them, it's not just their shock and her mother's shame that have to be overcome, but her own fraught experiences with whites."– provided by publisher.

How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir
Jones, Saeed. How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Haunted and haunting, Jones's memoir tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence--into tumultuous relationships with his mother and grandmother, into passing flings with lovers, friends and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another--and to one another--as we fight to become ourselves."
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When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
Khan-Cullors, Patrisse, and Asha Bandele. When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For Patrisse, the most vulnerable people in the country are Black people. Deliberately and ruthlessly targeted by a criminal justice system serving a white privilege agenda, Black people are subjected to unjustifiable racial profiling and police brutality. In 2013, when Trayvon Martin's killer went free, Patrisse's outrage led her to co-found Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. Condemned as terrorists and as a threat to America, these loving women founded a hashtag that birthed the movement to demand accountability from the authorities who continually turn a blind eye to the injustices inflicted upon people of Black and Brown skin. Championing human rights in the face of violent racism, Patrisse is a survivor. She transformed her personal pain into political power, giving voice to a people suffering inequality and a movement fueled by her strength and love, to tell the country -- and the world -- that Black Lives Matter."
Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor
Klein Halevi, Yossi. Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. New York: Harper, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor is one Israeli's powerful attempt to reach beyond the wall that separates Israelis and Palestinians and into the hearts of "the enemy." In a series of letters, Yossi Klein Halevi explains what motivated him to leave his native New York in his twenties and move to Israel to participate in the drama of the renewal of a Jewish homeland, which he is committed to see succeed as a morally responsible, democratic state in the Middle East."–Amazon.com

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