Memoir

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Raceless: In Search of Family, Identity, and the Truth about Where I Belong
Lawton, Georgina. Raceless: In Search of Family, Identity, and the Truth about Where I Belong. New York: Harper Perennial, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
 "Raised in sleepy English suburbia, Georgina Lawton was no stranger to homogeneity. Her parents were white; her friends were white; there was no reason for her to think she was any different. But over time her brown skin and dark, kinky hair frequently made her a target of prejudice. In Georgina's insistently color-blind household, with no acknowledgement of her difference or access to black culture, she lacked the coordinates to make sense of who she was. It was only after her father's death that Georgina began to unravel the truth about her parentage--and the racial identity that she had been denied. She fled from England and the turmoil of her home-life to live in black communities around the globe--the US, the UK, Nicaragua, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and Morocco--and to explore her identity and what it meant to live in and navigate the world as a black woman. She spoke with psychologists, sociologists, experts in genetic testing, and other individuals whose experiences of racial identity have been fraught or questioned in the hopes of understanding how, exactly, we identify ourselves. Raceless is an exploration of a fundamental question: what constitutes our sense of self? Drawing on her personal experiences and the stories of others, Lawton grapples with difficult questions about love, shame, grief, and prejudice, and reveals the nuanced and emotional journey of forming one's identity." --Amazon.ca.
Heavy
Laymon, Kiese. Heavy. New York: Scribner, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about the physical manifestations of violence, grief, trauma, and abuse on his own body. He writes of his own eating disorder and gambling addiction as well as similar issues that run throughout his family. Through self-exploration, storytelling, and honest conversation with family and friends, Heavy seeks to bring what has been hidden into the light and to reckon with all of its myriad sources, from the most intimate--a mother-child relationship--to the most universal--a society that has undervalued and abused black bodies for centuries"-- Provided by publisher.

"In this powerful and provocative memoir, Kiese Laymon fearlessly explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of living in a country wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we've been. In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his family, weight, sex, gambling, and writing. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few of us know how to responsibly love"-- Provided by publisher.

Later: My life at the Edge of the World
Lisicky, Paul. Later: My life at the Edge of the World. Minneapolis, MN: Greywolf Press, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"When Paul Lisicky arrived in Provincetown in the early 1990s, he was leaving behind a history of family trauma to live in a place outside of time. In this idyllic haven, known for its values of inclusion, acceptance, and art, Lisicky searches for love and soon finds a sense of belonging. At the same time, the community is consumed by the AIDS crisis, and the very structure of Town life is being rewired out of necessity: What might this utopia look like during a time of dystopia? Later dramatizes a spectacular yet ravaged place and a unique era when becoming one's self collided with the realization that staying alive from moment to moment exacted absolute attention"--Page [4] of cover.
My Queer War
Lord, James. My Queer War. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A powerful story of sexual awakening during the Second World War from the noted memorist and critic.

In My Queer War, James Lord tells the story of a young man's exposure to the terrors, dislocations, and horrors of armed conflict.

In 1942, a timid, inexperienced twenty-one-year-old Lord reports to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to enlist in the U.S. Army. His career in the armed forces takes him to Nevada, California, Boston, England, and, eventually, France and Germany, where he witnesses firsthand the ravages of total war on Europe's land and on its people. Along the way he comes to terms with his own sexuality, experiences the thrill of first love and the chill of disillusionment with his fellow man, and in a moment of great rashness makes the acquaintance of the world's most renowned artist, who will show him the way to a new life.

My Queer War is a rich and moving record of one man's maturation in the crucible of the greatest war the world has known. If his war is queer, it is because each man's experience is strange in its own way. His is a story of universal significance and appeal, told by a wry and eloquent observer of the world and of himself." - provided by publisher.

Socialist Realism
Low, Trisha. Socialist Realism. Minneapolis, Brookyln: Coffee House Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"As she recovers from a breakup with a lover who had meant everything to her, Trisha Low grapples with the meaning of everything, in memoir rich with theory and digression, but also in stark, gorgeous imagery and memorable, epigrammatic insight. Low, a young queer woman from a Singaporean family, must travel between the American coasts and experience debasement both routine -- in the form of sexist, racist world around her -- and extraordinary -- in the form of (for example) an S&M waterboarding workshop -- in order to come to terms with the end of her relationship and the beginning of the next chapter of her adult life"-- Provided by publisher.
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In the Dream House: A Memoir
Machado, Carmen Maria. In the Dream House: A Memoir. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"The author's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming."
Heart Berries: A Memoir
Mailhot, Terese Marie. Heart Berries: A Memoir. Berkeley, California: Counterpoint, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father-an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist-who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world."– Provided by publisher.
The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life
Markham, Lauren. The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life. First paperback edition. New York: Broadway Books, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"The deeply reported story of identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador's violence to build new lives in California–fighting to survive, to stay, and to belong. Growing up in rural El Salvador in the wake of the civil war, Ernesto Flores had always had a fascination with the United States, the faraway land of skyscrapers and Nikes, while his identical twin, Raul, never felt that northbound tug. But when Ernesto ends up on the wrong side of the region's brutal gangs he is forced to flee the country, and Raul, because he looks just like his brother, follows close behind–away from one danger and toward the great American unknown. In this urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration, journalist Lauren Markham follows the seventeen-year-old Flores twins as they make their harrowing journey across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities, and from there to their estranged older brother's custody in Oakland, CA. Soon these unaccompanied minors are navigating a new school in a new language, working to pay down their mounting coyote debt, and facing their day in immigration court, while also encountering the triumphs and pitfalls of life as American teenagers–girls, grades, Facebook–with only each other for support. With intimate access and breathtaking range, Markham offers a coming of age tale that is also a nuanced portrait of Central America's child exodus, an investigation of U.S. immigration policy, and an unforgettable testament to the migrant experience."–Provided by publisher.
Know My Name: A Memoir
Miller, Chanel. Know My Name: A Memoir. New York: Viking, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"She was know to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford's campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral--viewed by almost eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time. Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways--there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life. "Know My Name" will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic." -- summary from book jacket.

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
Mock, Janet. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. New York: Atria Books, 2014. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"In a landmark book, an extraordinary young woman recounts her coming-of-age as a transgender teen--a deeply personal and empowering portrait of self-revelation, adversity, and heroism. In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she publicly stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Since then, Mock has gone from covering the red carpet for People.com to advocating for all those who live within the shadows of society. Redefining Realness offers a bold new perspective on being young, multiracial, economically challenged, and transgender in America. Welcomed into the world as her parents' firstborn son, Mock set out early on to be her own person--no simple feat for a young person like herself. She struggled as the smart, determined child in a deeply loving, yet ill-equipped family that lacked money, education, and resources. Mock had to navigate her way through her teen years without parental guidance but luckily with a few close friends and mentors she overcame extremely daunting hurdles. This powerful memoir follows Mock's quest for identity, from her early gender conviction to a turbulent adolescence in Honolulu that found her transitioning through the halls of her school, self-medicating with hormones at fifteen, and flying across the world for sex reassignment surgery at just eighteen. Ever resilient, Mock emerged with a scholarship to college and moved to New York City, where she earned her masters degree, basked in the success of an enviable career, and told no one about her past. It wasn't until Mock fell for a man who called her the woman of his dreams that she felt ready to finally tell her story, becoming a fierce advocate for girls like herself. A profound statement of affirmation from a courageous woman, Redefining Realness shows as never before what it means to be a woman today and how to be yourself when you don't fit the mold created for you"-- Provided by publisher.

How to Be a Muslim: An American Story
Moghul, Haroon. How to Be a Muslim: An American Story. Boston: Beacon Press, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Haroon Moghul was first thrust into the spotlight after 9/11, as an undergraduate leader at New York University's Islamic Center. Suddenly, he was making appearances everywhere: on TV, talking to interfaith audiences, combating Islamophobia in print. He was becoming a prominent voice for American Muslims. Privately, Moghul had a complicated relationship with Islam. In high school he was barely a believer and entirely convinced he was going to hell. He sometimes drank. He didn't pray regularly. All he wanted was a girlfriend. But as Haroon discovered, it wasn't so easy to leave religion behind. To be true to himself, he needed to forge a unique American Muslim identity that reflected his own beliefs and personality. How to Be a Muslim is the story of a young man coping with the crushing pressure of a world that shuns and fears Muslims, struggling with his faith and searching for intellectual forebears, and suffering the onset of bipolar disorder. This is the story of the second-generation immigrant, of what it's like to lose yourself between cultures, and how to pick up the pieces."
Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story
Monette, Paul. Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story. San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1993. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Monette recalls his tortured youth as a gay man, during which he tried to imitate straight men and pursued heartbreaking affections, before his awakening to his own sexual orientation."
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A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano
Navarrette, Ruben. A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano. New York: Bantam Books, 1994. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
In 1985 an ambitious young Mexican-American from California’s rural San Joaquin Valley became one of the few Latinos to enter America’s most prestigious university. With intelligence and grace, Navarrette chronicles his experiences at Harvard, where he confronted questions of identity and ethnicity, and wrestled with the need to reconcile his values and opinions with the expectations of his family, his race, and society at large. More than a deeply personal memoir, A Darker Shade of Crimson also dares to pursue the complex questions of what needs to be done to provide a quality education for Latinos and other minorities in America.
The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You
Nayeri, Dina. The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You. New York: Catapult, 2019. Book @ Harvard Library
The Argonauts
Nelson, Maggie. The Argonauts. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2015. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of the author's relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson's account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, offers a firsthand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.
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Nonbinary: A Memoir
P-Orridge, Genesis. Nonbinary: A Memoir. New York: Abrams Press, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"In a memoir spanning decades of artistic risk-taking, Genesis P-Orridge, the inventor of "industrial music," founder of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, and world-renowned fine artist takes us on a journey through creativity and destruction, pleasure and pain. Genesis's unwillingness to be stuck-in one place, in one genre, or in one gender-will be an inspiration to the newest generation of trailblazers and nonconformists. It's for an audience that cannot and will not be ignored. 'Nonbinary' has far-reaching potential because of Genesis's remarkable body of work. It is full of great stories about Genesis's experiences with icons like William S. Burroughs and Ian Curtis."

Breathe: A Letter to My Sons
Perry, Imani. Breathe: A Letter to My Sons. Boston: Beacon Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Explores the terror, grace, and beauty of coming of age as a Black person in contemporary America and what it means to parent our children in a persistently unjust world. Emotionally raw and deeply reflective, Imani Perry issues an unflinching challenge to society to see Black children as deserving of humanity. She admits fear and frustration for her African American sons in a society that is increasingly racist and at times seems irredeemable. However, as a mother, feminist, writer, and intellectual, Perry offers an unfettered expression of love--finding beauty and possibility in life--and she exhorts her children and their peers to find the courage to chart their own paths and find steady footing and inspiration in Black tradition. Perry draws upon the ideas of figures such as James Baldwin, W. E. B. DuBois, Emily Dickinson, Toni Morrison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ida B. Wells. She shares vulnerabilities and insight from her own life and from encounters in places as varied as the West Side of Chicago; Birmingham, Alabama; and New England prep schools. Breathe offers a broader meditation on race, gender, and the meaning of a life well lived and is also an unforgettable lesson in Black resistance and resilience"-- Provided by publisher.

 

If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Qurʼan
Power, Carla. If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Qurʼan. 1st ed. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2015. View the BookAbstract
If the Oceans Were Ink is Carla Power's story of how she and her longtime friend Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi found a way to confront ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions that were cleaving their communities. Their friendship -- between a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh -- had always seemed unlikely, but now they were frustrated and bewildered by the battles being fought in their names. Both knew that a close look at the Quran would reveal a faith that preached peace and not mass murder; respect for women and not oppression. And so they embarked on a yearlong journey through the controversial text. A journalist who grew up in the Midwest and the Middle East, Power offers her unique vantage point on the Quran's most provocative verses as she debates with Akram at cafes, family gatherings, and packed lecture halls, conversations filled with both good humor and powerful insights. Their story takes them to madrasas in India and pilgrimage sites in Mecca, as they encounter politicians and jihadis, feminist activists and conservative scholars.
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Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman's Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim
Rehman, Sabeeha. Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman's Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2016. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
Threading My Prayer Rug is a richly textured reflection on what it is to be a Muslim in America today. Beginning with a sweetly funny, moving account of the author's arranged marriage, the author undercuts stereotypes and offers the refreshing view of an American life through Muslim eyes.
Letters to My White Male Friends
Ross, Dax-Devlon. Letters to My White Male Friends. First edition. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"In A Letter to My White Male Friends, Dax-Devlon Ross speaks directly to the millions of middle-aged white men who are suddenly awakening to race and racism. Finally, white men are realizing that simply not being racist isn't enough to end racism. These men want deeper insight not only into how racism has harmed black people, but, for the first time, into how it has harmed them. They are beginning to see that racism warps us all. A Letter to My White Male Friends promises to help the millions of white men who have said they are committed to change and develop the capacity to see, feel and sustain that commitment so they can help secure racial justice for us all. In part 1, Dax-Devlon Ross helps readers understand what it meant to be America's first generation raised after the civil rights era. He explains how we were all educated with colorblind narratives and symbols that typically, albeit implicitly, privileged whiteness and denigrated blackness. He provides the context and color of his own experiences in white schools so that white men can revisit moments in their lives where racism was in the room even when they didn't see it enter. In part 2, Ross shows how learning to see the harm that racism did to him, and forgiving himself, gave him the empathy to see the harm it does to white people as well. In part 3, he offers white men direction so that they can take just action in their workplace, community, family, and, most importantly, in themselves, especially in the future when race is no longer in the spotlight"-- Provided by publisher.

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