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OLIVE WITCH

A MEMOIR

A quietly moving memoir.

A Nigerian-born Bangladeshi writer/photographer’s memoir about growing up in Nigeria and America and the inner turmoil she faced while coming to terms with her multicultural heritage.

In 1972, just a year after Bangladesh gained independence, Hoque’s (The Lovers and the Leavers, 2015, etc.) parents immigrated to Africa to live in the small town of Nssuka. The author was born soon after and became the family’s “Nigerian baby.” While her scientist father worked at the local university, Hoque grew up immersed in Nigerian culture and even gave herself an Igbo name, Ngozi. But political instability caused the family to leave Nssuka permanently when Hoque was 13. They settled in Pittsburgh, a city where Hoque’s father had once spent a sabbatical year and where her youngest brother was born. Her transition to the U.S. was traumatic, yet within six months of arriving, no one could tell that she had not grown up “in middle America, going to summer camp, and watching bubble gum TV.” Hoque excelled in school, just as her ambitious parents—and especially her father—desired. A breakdown in the middle of her doctorate program at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business brought Hoque a greater awareness of the many personal, academic, and cultural stresses that had defined her life and her need to make sense of a fractured self. After a stint in an MFA program in San Francisco, Hoque traveled to Bangladesh, where she felt alienated despite the fact that “everyone looked like me.” Yet within this space of disconnection, she began to find healing, especially after her father’s revelation that he had once prepared for a literary career and even published a novel. Always aware of language and its limitations in fully fleshing out a life lived across cultures, Hoque charts a remarkably intercontinental journey of personal discovery while celebrating hard-won lessons of self-acceptance.

A quietly moving memoir.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-9-35-177700-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper360

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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