Faith, Environment, Politics, Memoirs and History

DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING by Madeleine Thien. Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two generations—those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and their children, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square. At the center of this epic story are two young women, Marie and Ai-Ming. Through their relationship Marie strives to piece together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking answers in the fragile layers of their shared story. Her quest will unveil how Kai, her enigmatic father, a talented pianist, and Ai-Ming’s father, the shy and brilliant composer, Sparrow, along with the violin prodigy Zhuli were forced to reimagine their artistic and secret selves during China’s political campaigns and how their fates reverberate through the years with lasting consequences.

 

A LONG WAY HOME by Saroo Brierley.   The photograph on the cover of this book was taken when the author was six years old. He had just landed in Melbourne and was walking into the room where he would meet his new parents. At just five years old, Saroo got lost on a train in India. Unable to recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the streets of Calcutta before eventually being adopted by a loving couple in Tasmania. Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the place he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family. Listen to an interview with Saroo Brierley. 

 

"There are degrees of loneliness," Deogratias, a young medical student from the mountains of Burundi, told Tracy Kidder in one of many conversations that led to Kidder's STRENGTH IN WHAT REMAINS: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness . "The worst…was to be a poor person oppressed by diseases." In 1994 Deo arrived in New York with $200 and no English, sick, half-starved, and traumatized by his months on the run from the Hutu militia. Nearly as staggering as the horrors Deo witnessed were the frequency and ferocity of those who came to his rescue: the Hutu woman in the banana grove who dragged him toward Rwanda when he believed he could go no further; the JFK baggage handler who took him to a squatters' tenement and taught him to ride the subway;  the former nun who dedicated herself to Deo's health and safety; the lawyer  who fought for Deo's green card; and  the academic and his artist wife who sent Deo to Columbia University and gave him a place to call home. Most remarkable of all is Deo himself, who rose from the ashes of genocide to realize his teenage dream of building a public health clinic in rural Burundi, helping to heal a village, to reconcile a people, and find flickers of peace within himself. 

 

WINTER GRACE: SPIRITUALITY AND AGING by Kathleen Fischer. This book reveals that aging is a process rich with joy and blessing, not something to dread. Moving readers into the heart of the Christian paradox of death and resurrection, the author shows how the losses that accompany aging can lead to freedom and new life.  “The later years take us into the heart of the central Christian paradox of death/resurrection. It is in living the pattern of that mystery that people discover the graces of life’s winter season and share them with all of us.” – Kathleen Fischer, author

 

THE VALUE OF NOTHING: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy by Raj Patel.   "The opposite of consumption isn't thrift," says Patel. "It's generosity." Raj Patel on the Value of Nothing

 

NOBODY NOWHERE The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic by Donna Williams. She inhabits a place of chaos, cacophony, and dancing light--where physical contact is painful and sights and sounds have no meaning. Although labeled, at times, deaf, retarded, or disturbed, Donna Williams is autistic--afflicted by a baffling condition of heightened sensory perception that imprisons the sufferer in a private, almost hallucinatory universe of patterns and colors. Nobody Nowhere is Donna's story in her own words--a haunting, courageous memoir of the titanic struggles she has endured in her quest to merge "my world" with "the world."