Recent Releases - Biography and Memoir

Biography and Memoir
August 2021
Recent Releases
Nowhere Girl: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood
by Cheryl Diamond

What it's about: Born into a family of outlaws, Cheryl Diamond spent her formative years on the run to evade the authorities.

Want a taste? "By the age of nine, I will have lived in more than a dozen countries, on five continents, under six assumed identities." 

Who it's for: Fans of Jeannette Walls' The Glass Castle and Tara Westover's Educated will enjoy Diamond's coming-of-age tale of heartbreak, suspense, and finding her own way.
Bring Your Baggage and Don't Pack Light: Essays
by Helen Ellis

What it is: a witty and conversational collection of essays from the bestselling author of American Housewife and Southern Lady Code.

Read it for: author Helen Ellis' folksy charm and light-hearted reflections on friendship and aging.   

Essays include: "Are You There, Menopause? It's Me, Helen;" "Grown Ass-Ladies Gone Mild;" "I Feel Better About My Neck."
Pops: Learning to Be a Son and a Father
by Craig Melvin

What it's about: Growing up in 1980s and '90s Columbia, SC, Craig Melvin struggled to connect to his emotionally distant, alcoholic father.

Why you might like it: Today anchor Melvin's moving debut chronicles the pair's rift and reconciliation with candor and empathy. 

Try this next: For another thoughtful memoir exploring race, addiction, and father-son bonds, check out Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gregory Pardlo's Air Traffic.
The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American...
by John Tresch

What it is: an engaging and accessible biography exploring how writer Edgar Allan Poe incorporated his fascination with science into his work.

What sets it apart: Author John Tresch offers fresh insights on Poe's literary legacy by examining the intersection between his creative evolution and scientific advancements in mid-19th century America.

Did you know? Poe's only bestseller during his lifetime was the conchology textbook The Conchologist's First Book
Family Histories & Mysteries
Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India
by Sujatha Gidla

What it is: an enlightening exploration of India's caste system, as seen through the eyes of author Sujatha Gidla, who was born into an "untouchable" family in 1960s Andhra Pradesh.

What's inside: profiles of Gidla's family members, including her uncle, the poet and Communist revolutionary Satyamurthy, who inspired Gidla to pursue activist causes.

Reviewers say: This evocative debut "succeeds in placing the nuances of memoir within a grand historical context" (Booklist).  
Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots
by Morgan Jerkins

What it's about: Bestselling author Morgan Jerkins, who lives in New York and was raised in New Jersey, traveled to Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California for insight as she thoughtfully explored how the Great Migration affected families, especially her own.

Further reading: For more on the Great Migration, which saw millions of African Americans leave the South between 1916 and 1970, pick up Isabel Wilkerson's award-winning history The Warmth of Other Suns; for another book combining family, travelogue, and modern Black history, try Candacy Taylor's Overground Railroad. 
The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President's Black Family
by Bettye Kearse

What it is: Bettye Kearse's investigation into a long-standing family legend -- that she is descended from U.S. President James Madison and his enslaved cook, Coreen.

Why you might like it: Kearse's saga, supplemented with family heirlooms, oral histories, and her travels to sites connected to American slavery (including slave trading posts in Ghana and Nigeria), offers a thought-provoking revision to official historical narratives.

Try this next: Jefferson's Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America by Catherine Kerrison.
The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between
by Hisham Matar

What it's about: In 2012, three decades after his flight from Libya, Hisham Matar returned in search of his father, a military official who was kidnapped and imprisoned during Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

Read it for: an eloquently written tribute to Matar's father and his homeland; nail-biting moments of suspense worthy of a spy novel.

Awards buzz: The Return won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography and was a New York Times Notable Book.
When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains
by Ariana Neumann

What it is: Venezuelan-born journalist Ariana Neumann's heartwrenching account of her startling discovery -- that her father Hans, who died in 2001, was Jewish, and he survived the Holocaust by assuming a false identity.

Featuring: Neumann's meticulous research and dauntless attempts to reconnect with the family she never knew she had. 

Want a taste? "I spent my childhood willing a mystery to come my way. When it finally did, it took decades to solve."
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love
by Dani Shapiro

What it's about: After submitting her DNA for analysis on a whim, Dani Shapiro discovered that her long-deceased dad was not her biological father. Grappling with the consequences of this shocking family secret, she set out to uncover the true story of her parentage.

Book buzz: A Visit from the Goon Squad author Jennifer Egan calls Inheritance "a gripping genetic detective story;" Marlena author Julie Buntin says it's a "read-in-one-sitting kind of memoir." 
Contact your librarian for more great books!