Walking with Ghosts—A Memoir: Gabriel Byrne

“How many times have I returned in my dreams to this hill. It is always summer as I look out over the gold and green fields, ditches foaming with hawthorn and lilac, river glinting under the sun like a blade. When I was young, I found sanctuary here and the memory of it deep in …

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The Powerful and the Damned—Private Diaries in Turbulent Times: Lionel Barber

From 2005 to 2020, Lionel Barber had what he called “the best job in the world”: editor of the London Financial Times. This is Barber’s account of those years and his close encounters with the great and the not-so-great (or good!). As editor of a major newspaper, Barber meets the people who make the news: …

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Of Water and the Spirit—Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman: Malidoma Patrice Somé

“The story I am going to tell comes from a place deep inside of myself, a place that perceives all that I have irremediably lost and, perhaps, what gain there is behind the loss. If people forget their past as a way to survive, other people remember it for the same reason. When cultures with …

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Small Memories—A Memoir: José Saramago

Translated from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa José Saramago was born in 1922 in Azinhaga, a village in Portugal. The village has a charter that dates back to the thirteenth century, “but nothing remains of that glorious ancient history except the river that passes right by it”. The name comes from the Arabic “as-zinaik” meaning …

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We are Displaced—My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World: Malala Yousafzai (with Liz Welch)

Review by Mohan Raj A longer version of this review was originally published in The Book Review, Vol XLIV, No. 2-3, Feb-Mar 2020.  Reproduced with the permission of The Book Review Literary Trust. Displacement──within and across countries──of large numbers of people, owing to political instability or civil strife, is a fact of contemporary life. UN statistics …

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Taken at the Flood—A Memoir of a Political Life: Vasanth Kannabiran

Review by Kamakshi Balasubramanian Originally published in The Book Review, Vol. XLIV, No. 8, August 2020. Reprinted with permission from The Book Review Literary Trust. Vasanth Kannabiran’s latest book, described in this edition’s back cover as "a feminist memoir", is a great deal more. There are at least three major narrative strands in the book: …

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Alexander Hamilton: Ron Chernow

“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known / When I was young and dreamed of glory / You have no control: / Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” These lines are from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Hamilton, which was inspired by this biography. The quote seems appropriate. Although Alexander Hamilton was one …

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Maya Angelou

“The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.” Three strong black women stand out in this first volume of Maya Angelou’s …

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My Name is Gauhar Jaan! The Life and Times of a Musician: Vikram Sampath

Review by Sadhana Ramchander I have been fascinated by Gauhar Jaan's life ever since I came to know about her. I bought this hard-bound book in the bookshop A A Hussian some years ago but it sat on my shelves for a long time. I finally read it, and am so glad I did because …

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A Book of Silence: Sara Maitland

“It is quite hard to remember which came first—the freedom of solitude or the energy of silence. … I became less driven, more reflective and great deal less frenetic. And into that space flowed silence: I would go out into the garden at night or in the early morning and just look and listen… . …

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