Reina Castillo is the alluring young woman whose beloved brother is serving a death sentence for a crime that shocked the community, throwing a baby off a bridge—a crime for which Reina secretly blames herself. With her brother's death, though devastated and in mourning, Reina is finally released from her prison vigil. Seeking anonymity, she moves to a sleepy town in the Florida Keys where she meets Nesto Cadena, a recently exiled Cuban awaiting with hope the arrival of the children he left behind in Havana. Through Nesto's love of the sea and capacity for faith, Reina comes to understand her own connections to the life-giving and destructive forces of the ocean that surrounds her as well as its role in her family's troubled history, and in their companionship, begins to find freedom from the burden of guilt she carries for her brother's crime. Set in the vibrant coastal and Caribbean communities of Miami, the Florida Keys, Havana, Cuba, and Cartagena, Colombia, with The Veins of the Ocean Patricia Engel delivers a profound and riveting Pan-American story of fractured lives finding solace and redemption in the beauty and power of the natural world, and in one another.
Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonial, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising half-caste children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon, and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi's has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and--with outstanding economy and force--captures the troubled spirit of our own nation
Combining intimate storytelling with investigative journalism, City of Thorns takes us inside Dadaab, the world's biggest and most notorious refugee camp, through the stories of the people who live there. For readers of Behind the Beautiful Forevers and What Is the What. To charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it's a "nursery for terrorists"; to the western media, it's a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort. Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, in the midst of the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land, getting to know many of the individuals who have sought sanctuary in the camp. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for soccer; Nisho, who scrapes together an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education. With deep compassion and rare eloquence, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Lucid, vivid and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with profound international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dadaab home.
Most Americans are now familiar with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and its prevalence among troops. In this groundbreaking new book, David Wood examines the far more pervasive yet less understood experience of those we send to war: moral injury, the violation of our fundamental values of right and wrong that so often occurs in the impossible moral dilemmas of modern conflict. It is a call to listen intently to our newest generation of veterans, and to ponder the inevitable human costs of putting American "boots on the ground" as new wars approach.
The prisons we build for ourselves and others; the long-term impact of civil, tribal and international conflict on combatants and civilians, on cultures, families, and the physical environment—these themes wind their way through the fiction and non-fiction works honored by the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2017. Both the fiction winner and runner-up develop their themes through multigenerational family sagas. The fiction winner, The Veins of the Ocean, by Patricia Engle follows two generations of a Columbian-American “prison family” through the eyes of one young woman who must learn to navigate a difficult path toward freedom and forgiveness; while the fiction runner-up, Homegoing, by Yaa Gyassi follows eight generations of descendants of two Ghanaian sisters separated by the slave trade. The nonfiction winner, journalist David Wood’s What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars, offers an exhaustive account of the psychological damage inflicted on American combatants in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan resulting from the cognitive dissonance between their mission as they understand and have been prepared for it and their actual experience on the ground and in the aftermath. Ben Rawlence’s City of Thorns develops the theme through close focus on nine individuals living in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, which has been in existence since 1992 and houses generations of refugees (over 245,000 as of 2017) from war, drought, and famine. The body of work of the 2017 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award recipient, the Irish novelist, critic and playwright Colm Toíbín, similarly explores diaspora and civil war, and the ways in which families, nations, and tribes divide and reknit themselves.
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