GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS, by Wamariya

Women's Biography
Monday, December 9, 7:30 am

The Women's Biography Book Group is led by Doris Feinsilber and meets the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m.

 

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After By Clemantine Wamariya, Elizabeth Weil Cover Image

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After (Paperback)

$17.00


Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The plot provided by the universe was filled with starvation, war and rape. I would not—could not—live in that tale.”
 
Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were thunder. In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries, searching for safety—perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive.
 
When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States; there, in Chicago, their lives diverged. Though their bond remained unbreakable, Claire, who had for so long protected and provided for Clemantine, was a single mother struggling to make ends meet, while Clemantine was taken in by a family who raised her as their own. She seemed to live the American dream: attending private school, taking up cheerleading, and, ultimately, graduating from Yale. Yet the years of being treated as less than human, of going hungry and seeing death, could not be erased. She felt at the same time six years old and one hundred years old.
 
In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine provokes us to look beyond the label of “victim” and recognize the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks. Devastating yet beautiful, and bracingly original, it is a powerful testament to her commitment to constructing a life on her own terms.
Clemantine Wamariya is a storyteller and human rights advocate. Born in Kigali, Rwanda, displaced by conflict, Clemantine migrated throughout seven African countries as a child. At age twelve, she was granted refugee status in the United States and went on to receive a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University. She lives in San Francisco.

Elizabeth Weil is a writer-at-large for The New York Times Magazine, a contributing editor to Outside magazine, and writes frequently for Vogue and other publications. She is the recipient of a New York Press Club Award for her feature reporting, a Lowell Thomas Award for her travel writing, and a GLAAD Award for her coverage of LGBT issues. In addition, her work has been a finalist for a National Magazine Award, a James Beard Award, and a Dart Award for coverage of trauma. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two daughters.
Product Details ISBN: 9780451495334
ISBN-10: 0451495330
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019
Pages: 304
Language: English
Winner of the 2019 ALA/YALSA Alex Award

A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2018
A Glamour Best Book of 2018
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018
A Real Simple Best Book of 2018

“Sharp, moving . . . Wamariya and her co-author, Elizabeth Weil . . . describe Wamariya’s idyllic early childhood in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and the madness that followed with an analytic eye and, at times, a lyrical honesty. . . . Wamariya is piercing about her alienation in America and her effort to combat the perception that she is an exotic figure, to be pitied or dismissed. . . . Wamariya tells her own story with feeling, in vivid prose. She has remade herself, as she explains was necessary to do, on her own terms.”—Alexis Okeowo, New York Times Book Review

"Like Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone, on being a boy soldier in Sierra Leone, or Joseph Kim’s Under the Same Sky, on escaping North Korea, The Girl Who Smiled Beads is at once terrifying and life-affirming. And like those memoirs, it painstakingly describes the human cost of war."—Washington Post

“Remarkable . . . Wamariya and the journalist Elizabeth Weil set out to sabotage facile uplift. . . . The fractured form of her own narrative—deftling toggling between her African and American odysseys—gives troubled memory its dark due.”Ann Hulbert, The Atlantic

"Wamariya’s memoir proves how the human spirit can triumph. It truly floored me."—Elisabeth Egan, Glamour

"Unforgettable."People

"Gripping . . . It is our human tragedy that there will always be war, and that there will always be displaced people. Memoirs that show exactly what that means, exactly what the toll is, are vital."—The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Wamariya (along with Outside contributor Elizabeth Weil) tells . . . her story—which, yes, is often extremely tough—with brilliance.” —Outside

“Heartbreaking and honest, this important memoir explores the lasting effects that trauma and destruction have on an individual and emphasizes the human ability to overcome it all and build a new future—even when that new life comes with horrors of its own.” —Real Simple

“In the aftermath of the Holocaust, witnesses and survivors shared reflections that changed our moral understanding of good and evil and all that lies between. In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine Wamariya has written a defining, luminescent memoir that shines a sharp light on the dark forces that roil our age. If you read this book—and once you read the first page, you will not put it down—you will never think about political violence, displacement, or the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship the same way again. Wamariya tells the story of her discombobulating resettlement in the United States as a teenager, following her harrowing experiences in the Rwandan genocide and as a refugee roaming the African continent in search of a home. Wamariya is unsparing in her criticisms of Western indifference and moral presumptuousness, and she subjects her own judgments and values to the same withering scrutiny, revealing a young woman that figures out how to survive but struggles to learn how to live. Her gripping and brutally honest reflections inspire us to count our blessings and summon us to follow her fierce and unrelenting example to try to help build the world we wish to see.”
Samantha Power, author of "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide; Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

“This book is not a conventional story about war and its aftermath; it’s a powerful coming-of-age story in which a girl explores her identity in the wake of a brutal war that destroyed her family and home. Wamariya is an exceptional narrator and her story is unforgettable.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“At once heart-breaking and hopeful, [Wamariya's] story is about power and helplessness, loneliness and identity, and the strange juxtaposition of poverty and privilege.... This beautifully written and touching account goes beyond the horror of war to recall the lived experience of a child trying to make sense of violence and strife. Intimate and lyrical, the narrative flows from Wamariya’s early experience to her life in the United States with equal grace. A must-read.”Library Journal (starred review)

"In this eloquent and engaging memoir, Clemantine Wamariya recalls a childhood spent as a refugee on the run from war, violence, and terror, and a womanhood shaped by those experiences. Affecting and utterly eye-opening, The Girl Who Smiled Beads is a powerful reminder of just how strong and indomitable the human spirit can be."Bustle

“Riveting . . . [A] poetically written, searchingly honest memoir.”—National Catholic Reporter

"Lyrical and hauntingly beautiful. The Girl Who Smiled Beads will inspire you."—Chanrithy Him, author of When Broken Glass Floats

“A powerful record of the refugee experience . . . [with] moments of potent self-reckoning.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In her prose as in her life, Wamariya is brave, intelligent, and generous. Sliding easily between past and present, this memoir is a soulful, searing story about how families survive.”—Booklist


DAUGHTER OF THE COLD WAR, By Warneck

Women's Biography
Monday, November 11, 7:30 pm

The Women's Biography Book Group is led by Doris Feinsilber and meets the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m.

 

Daughter of the Cold War (Russian and East European Studies) By Grace Kennan Warnecke Cover Image

Daughter of the Cold War (Russian and East European Studies) (Paperback)

$30.00


Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Grace Kennan Warnecke's memoir is about a life lived on the edge of history. Daughter of one of the most influential diplomats of the twentieth century, wife of the scion of a newspaper dynasty and mother of the youngest owner of a major league baseball team, Grace eventually found her way out from under the shadows of others to forge a dynamic career of her own.

Born in Latvia, Grace lived in seven countries and spoke five languages before the age of eleven. As a child, she witnessed Hitler’s march into Prague, attended a Soviet school during World War II, and sailed the seas with her father. In a multi-faceted career, she worked as a professional photographer, television producer, and book editor and critic. Eventually, like her father, she became a Russian specialist, but of a very different kind. She accompanied Ted Kennedy and his family to Russia, escorted Joan Baez to Moscow to meet with dissident Andrei Sakharov, and hosted Josef Stalin’s daughter on the family farm after Svetlana defected to the United States. While running her own consulting company in Russia, she witnessed the breakup of the Soviet Union, and later became director of a women’s economic empowerment project in a newly independent Ukraine.

Daughter of the Cold War is a tale of all these adventures and so much more. This compelling and evocative memoir allows readers to follow Grace's amazing path through life – a whirlwind journey of survival, risk, and self-discovery through a kaleidoscope of many countries, historic events, and fascinating people.
Grace Kennan Warnecke serves as Chairman of the Board of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. She has had a lifelong association with Russia and the former Soviet Union.  She is the former chair of the National Advisory Council, Harriman Institute, at Columbia University, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Kennan Institute. She served as country director for Winrock International in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 1999 to 2003. The former president of SOVUS Business Consultants, she was also the founder and project supervisor of the Volkhov International Small Business Incubator in Russia and executive vice president of the Alliance of American and Russian Women. Additionally, Grace Kennan Warenecke was founding executive director of the American-Soviet Youth Orchestra and associate producer of the prize-winning PBS documentary The First Fifty Years: Reflections on U.S.-Soviet Relations.  As a professional photographer she was senior editor of A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union. She has served as an election observer in Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. In 2013 she was named a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.  She lives in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard.
 
Product Details ISBN: 9780822965893
ISBN-10: 0822965895
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication Date: April 30th, 2019
Pages: 290
Language: English
Series: Russian and East European Studies
“Grace Kennan Warnecke isn't as well known as other Kennans have been, but she should be and this memoir shows why. It's a vivid account of living a life of one's own with a famous father, supplying much that's missing in other biographies. Highly recommended.” —John Lewis Gaddis, Yale University, author of George F. Kennan: An American Life
 

“With admiration and awareness of her father George F. Kennan’s biases, Grace Kennan Warnecke provides details of an extraordinarily vibrant life, spanning many relocations, relationships, and projects in the arts, journalism, and business as a leading Russia expert and critic. Warnecke emerges as a remarkable East-West interlocutor, one who floated across transnational communities and social circles, and skillfully managed the hidden complexities of both Cold War high-stakes diplomacy and the challenging environments of the new post-Soviet states.” —Alexander Cooley, Director, Harriman Institute, Columbia University

“Beautifully crafted, a pleasure to read. Warnecke is more than just George F. Kennan’s daughter. She was present at important historical events and adds interesting details as to how we understand them. Few Americans have the depth and duration of interaction with Russia Warnecke has, so that her observations about Soviet and Russian life are of importance. Her life  reveals what it meant to be an intelligent, professional woman for much of the late twentieth century.” —Blair Ruble, Vice President for Programs at the Woodrow Wilson Center

"Warnecke delicately traces the all-too-familiar journey of young women of her day, recalling how she initially saw her place as servant and enabler, and only later in life realized that she did not have to define herself by either her father or her domineering second husband." Times Literary Supplement 

ANTS AMONG ELEPHANTS, by Gidla

Women's Biography
Monday, October 14, 7:30 pm

The Women's Biography Book Group is led by Doris Feinsilber and meets the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m.

 

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India By Sujatha Gidla Cover Image

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India (Paperback)

$16.00


Special Order—Subject to Availability

A Wall Street Journal Top 10 Nonfiction Book of 2017
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2017
A Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2017

"Ants Among Elephants is an arresting, affecting and ultimately enlightening memoir. It is quite possibly the most striking work of non-fiction set in India since Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, and heralds the arrival of a formidable new writer." —The Economist


The stunning true story of an untouchable family who become teachers, and one, a poet and revolutionary

Like one in six people in India, Sujatha Gidla was born an untouchable. While most untouchables are illiterate, her family was educated by Canadian missionaries in the 1930s, making it possible for Gidla to attend elite schools and move to America at the age of twenty-six. It was only then that she saw how extraordinary—and yet how typical—her family history truly was. Her mother, Manjula, and uncles Satyam and Carey were born in the last days of British colonial rule. They grew up in a world marked by poverty and injustice, but also full of possibility. In the slums where they lived, everyone had a political side, and rallies, agitations, and arrests were commonplace. The Independence movement promised freedom. Yet for untouchables and other poor and working people, little changed. Satyam, the eldest, switched allegiance to the Communist Party. Gidla recounts his incredible transformation from student and labor organizer to famous poet and founder of a left-wing guerrilla movement. And Gidla charts her mother’s battles with caste and women’s oppression. Page by page, Gidla takes us into a complicated, close-knit family as they desperately strive for a decent life and a more just society.

A moving portrait of love, hardship, and struggle, Ants Among Elephants is also that rare thing: a personal history of modern India told from the bottom up.

Sujatha Gidla was born an untouchable in Andhra Pradesh, India. She studied physics at the Regional Engineering College, Warangal. The author of Ants Among the Elephants, her writing has appeared in The Oxford India Anthology of Telugu Dalit Writing. She lives in New York and works as a conductor on the subway.
Product Details ISBN: 9780374537821
ISBN-10: 0374537828
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: July 17th, 2018
Pages: 320
Language: English

A New York Times Editors' Choice

“Sujatha Gidla’s Ants Among Elephants, which records the life of a Dalit family in the central Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and spans nearly a century, significantly enriches the new Dalit literature in English . . . Defiant in the face of endless cruelty and misery, and tender with its victims, she seems determined to render the truth of a historical experience in all its dimensions, complexity, and nuance. The result is a book that combines many different genres—memoir, history, ethnography, and literature—and is outstanding in the intensity and scale of its revelations . . . Gidla’s book achieves the emotional power of V.S. Naipaul’s great novel A House for Mr. Biswas.” —Pankaj Mishra, The New York Review of Books

“Unsentimental, deeply poignant . . . Ants Among Elephants gives readers an unsettling and visceral understanding of how discrimination, segregation and stereotypes have endured . . . [Sujatha Gidla] writes with quiet, fierce conviction, zooming in to give us sharply drawn, Dickensian portraits of relatives, friends and acquaintances, and zooming out to give us snapshots of entire villages, towns and cities . . . In these pages, she has told those family stories and, in doing so, the story of how ancient prejudices persist in contemporary India, and how those prejudices are being challenged by the disenfranchised.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A remarkable family history . . . Ants Among Elephants may well be eye-opening not just for non-Indians—who will recoil in righteous horror from the intimate details of caste discrimination—but also for many Indians, for whom the lives of Untouchables take place out of sight . . . In this book of nonfiction one reads of real people fighting real cruelty with real courage and grace." —Tunku Varadarajan, The Wall Street Journal

"With her luminous command of fine details, Gidla manages a difficult and admirable task: she takes a tremendously personal memoir and renders it with such clarity that it tells the broader story of a place and an era." —James Norton, Christian Science Monitor

"The sheer immensity of India—its history, geography, politics and peoples—would be hard to condense under any circumstances . . . [but Gidla] brilliantly narrows the scope by explaining the tumultuous events of 20th-century India through her own family’s strife-ridden lives.” —Priscilla Kipp, BookPage

"[A] brilliant debut . . . Gidla is a smart and deeply sympathetic narrator who tells the lesser known history of India’s modern communist movement. The book never flags, whether covering Satyam’s political awakening as a young and poor bohemian or Manjula’s rocky marriage to a mercurial and violent man. Gidla writes about the heavy topics of poverty, caste and gender inequality, and political corruption with grace and wit. Gidla’s work is an essential contribution to contemporary Indian literature." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An astonishing account, fired by compassion and lit up with a fierce sense of justice, filled with unforgettable characters raging against the violence and oppression that lurks under the surface glitter of modern India.”
—Siddhartha Deb, author of The Beautiful and the Damned

Ants Among Elephants is a fascinating and moving portrayal of one family's struggle to live.” —Lee E. Cart, Shelf Awareness

“In Ants Among Elephants, Sujatha Gidla gives us a family history that deeply humanizes key figures in India's Naxalite movement while also revealing an India that few outsiders will have encountered. Gidla's uncommon position and background equip her to approach her subject not with mere curiosity, or, worse yet, pity and condescension, but to tell the stories of some of India's most disenfranchised people from their own perspectives and in their own voices. This is an impressive and important book that should be read by anyone with an interest in modern India.” —Preeta Samarasan, author of Evening is the Whole Day



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