01-01-2008 02:59 PM - edited 01-01-2008 05:12 PM
As I mentioned in an earlier entry, if you haven't read it now's the time to get yourself a copy of MONIQUE AND THE MANGO RAINS, an extraordinary memoir by Kris Holloway about her two years in a tiny village in Mali assisting the village midwife (note to male readers: this isn't just a book for women -- men love it, too). Kris has just returned from Mali and she is filled with stories of visits with Monique's family and CLINIQUE MONIQUE, a maternal and child clinic she is funding and supplying as a tribute to her dear friend/midwife Monique Dembele. She'll be joining us for several weeks this month -- or longer if there is demand. So, Book Explorers, start posting whenever you want. If you scroll down a bit you should find the thread from last year when Kris first joined us.
Why am I am particularly passionate about this book? At the Literary Ventures Fund we always look for books that resonate with readers and that illuminate ideas and issues. For this reason we decided to support the story of Monique Dembele, a young midwife in a tiny sub-Saharan African village in Mali, who now has been immortalized in Monique and the Mango Rains, Kris Holloway’s stunning account of her time in the Peace Corps as Dembele’s assistant. Originally published as an ethnographic text for academic use, the author knew her book was a window into healthcare in Africa and other developing countries, the power of a trans-cultural friendship and the knowledge that individuals can contribute in ways small and large to making the world a better and kinder place. Kris contacted the Literary Ventures Fund and we confirmed her hunch — through innovative marketing and trade distribution — that a much wider readership wanted to know about Monique Dembele. We did everything from create readers guides and special marketing materials, to meeting one on one with booksellers across the country, to introducing Kris to reading groups everywhere, to share our enthusiasm for Kris’ work.
Readers responded with enormous generosity to our efforts and Kris’ dream has come true: Clinique Monique, a maternal and child health facility, is now being built and equipped in Dembele’s honor and Monique’s children will be educated, including the girls who normally would not go beyond sixth grade. And the ripples continue: the book is being translated into several languages; medical professionals have begun using the book in their classes; midwives instruct pregnant women to read the book before giving birth; Monique and the Mango Rains has become required reading for thousands of students and, of course, Kris speaks to audiences regularly always reminding them that they don’t need to have millions of dollars to dramatically improve the lives of others, that they alone can make a difference.
That’s the power of a great book. Please join us if you have read MONIQUE. If you haven't read it start your year off right with this remarkable and life-altering book.
Coming soon: here's info about two books we'll be featuring in February. PLEASE NOTE that "The Leper Compound" is being published this month by Bellevue Literary Press, so now's the time to put in your online order for it or ask your bookseller to get a copy for you. "The Big Eddy Club" was published in 2007 by New Press and was just rejacketed (the new cover is red) and has been relaunched (with support from LVF).
THE LEPER COMPOUND (fiction)
By Paula Nangle
"The Leper Compound succeeds remarkably in giving a sense of how, during the last years of white rule in southern Africa, the daily experience of ordinary people was interfused with the larger historical drama."
—J.M. Coetzee, 2003 Nobel Laureate for Literature and author of Slow Man
A stunning debut novel by a psychiatric nurse in which illness unleashes the uncanny and essential of human identity, featuring an American missionary's daughter who grows into womanhood amid the social and political conflict of 1980s southern Africa The setting of this extraordinary novel is Rhodesia in the throes of the conflict that will give birth to Zimbabwe, a transition that Nangle witnessed when she lived there. Colleen, motherless from the age of seven, is left alone with her father, an American ex pat coffee farmer, and her younger sister, whose mental illness removes her from the family. The Leper Compound is the record of Colleen's passage into adulthood across an Africa in transformation. Extending beyond the usual parameters of a "coming of age" story, it is, simultaneously, about the forging of personal and national identity. Paula Nangle was raised by missionaries in the US and southern Africa and now lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where she works as a psychiatric nurse.
THE BIG EDDY CLUB: The Stocking Stranglings and Southern Justice (non-fiction)
By David Rose
"A gripping and brilliant piece of reporting that both lays bare an appalling miscarriage of justice and exposes its origins in the tortured history of the South."
— Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking
Over the course of eight bloody months in the 1970s, a serial rapist and murderer terrorized Columbus, Georgia, killing seven elderly white women by strangling them in their beds. In 1986, eight years after the last murder, an African American, Carlton Gary, was convicted and sentenced to death. Though many in the city doubt his guilt, he remains on death row. Vanity Fair investigative journalist David Rose has followed this case for a decade in an investigation that led him to the Big Eddy Club—an all-white, members-only club in Columbus, frequented by the town's most prominent judges and lawyers . . . as well as most of the seven murdered women. The Big Eddy Club is a gripping, revealing drama, full of evocatively drawn characters, insidious institutions, and the extraordinary connections that bind past and present. The book is also a compelling, accessible, and timely exploration of race and criminal justice, not just in the context of the South but in the entire United States, as it addresses the corruption of due process as a tool of racial oppression.
One last note: Thanks for all the contributions to the JUST READ IT LIST. Keep 'em coming.
Message Edited by ande on 01-01-2008 05:12 PM
01-04-2008 11:33 AM
And what great news about Clinique Monique! I'm so happy for Kris!
Let's all be sure to stop in and say 'Hi' to her while she's here...
01-07-2008 12:28 PM
I've just returned from a wonderful trip back to Mali. We took tea, danced and sang with Monique's kids, celebrated the holidays (Tabasci and Christmas) with lots of rice and goat sauce, and toured Clinique Monique. It was truly a remarkable visit. I even got to hold a 6 hour old baby boy at the Nampossela birthing house. I don't even know where to begin in terms of relating stories, so please: for those of you who have read the book or are curious about it, feel free to ask any questions that you may have. I'm open.
Looking forward to hearing from you, and great to be back at B&N online,
Learn more about Monique and the Mango Rains.
01-07-2008 09:19 PM
Ah yes, good ole Francois. John and I were in Nampossela two weeks ago and saw Francois and his new family. Yep, he's still in the village, living in the same mud-walled compound that his parents Louis and Blanche lived in. The compound is in disrepair compared to when I lived there - the granary has fallen down, the latrine walls have eroded, the outdoor thatched hangar is missing - but all is still functional. Francois has remarried and has two young children. We greeted him and his wife, gave a few small gifts of tea, sugar, and rice, and then were on our way to visit others in the village. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be, maybe because Monique's siblings advised me that it was the right thing to do. Greetings are important in Mali and Francois is the father of children whom we adore. Genevieve, Basil, and Christini (Monique's kids) were with us during our visit to the village and they seemed respectful of their father, if distant. They don't live with him and are all in school (!!) elsewhere living with members of Monique's family.
Learn more about Monique and the Mango Rains.