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The Light of the World: A Memoir Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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An Amazon Best Book of April 2015: Elizabeth Alexander’s memoir of her marriage and the sudden death of her husband is by turns sorrowful and joyful, earthy and elegiac, deeply personal and achingly universal. Alexander, an acclaimed poet perhaps best known for the poem she delivered at Barack Obama’s first inauguration, is a professor at Yale. (In an aside, she reveals that she is only the 3rd African American woman to get tenure at that University.) Her husband, Ficre, was an Eritrean who’d survived civil war in Africa to become a chef and artist in America; their marriage, as chronicled here, was a triumph of politics, society and romance. It was not without its secrets or its difficulties, but it was clearly a happy, no, make that a joyful union; the pleasures of cooking together (Alexander sometimes includes recipes), entertaining a huge, international group of family and friends and raising their two precocious boys is palpable on every mellifluous page. Like Joan Didion, Meghan O’Rourke and Roger Rosenblatt before her, Alexander here faces the unfaceable topic of loss -- and almost convinces us – and herself – that despite her terrible grief, she is grateful for the life and love that preceded it. --Sara Nelson--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Love - for a marvelous man, for her sons, for the textures and pleasures of the world - shines on every page of Elizabeth Alexander's THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. This acutely observed study of what it means to lose one's beloved is a profound and beautiful contradiction: a joyous book that faces head-on the deepest grief, written with art and courage, and with limitless heart."―Mark Doty
"This is a beautifully written, heartrendingly candid account of the abrupt loss of her husband by the distinguished poet Elizabeth Alexander. It is a vivid, intensely rendered elegy of a remarkable man--husband, father, artist, chef. Both a memoir and a portrait of a marriage, The Light of the World is, as its title suggests, a bittersweet testament to love and the memory of love, one of the most compelling memoirs of loss that I have ever read."―Joyce Carol Oates
"Elizabeth Alexander has written a brave and beautiful book about love and loss-the deep pain that comes with such a loss, and the redemptive realization that such pain is a small price to pay for such a love."―Jeannette Walls, New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Castle
"This is a gorgeous love story, written by one of America's greatest contemporary poets. Graceful in its simplicity, sweeping in scope, this book is proof that behind the boarded up windows of America's roiled marriages and ruined affairs, true love still exists, and where it does exist, it graces the world-and us-with light and hope. Elizabeth Alexander is a prose writer of deep talent and affecting skill. With ease, she peels back layer after layer to show the soft secrets of affection, the kindness, and the wide open generosity of a full hearted man and talented artist, who had more love to give in his relatively short lifetime than most of us will ever know."―James McBride, National Book Award-winning author of The Good Lord Bird and #1 New York Times bestseller The Color of Water
"THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD is as beautiful and moving as a gorgeous piece of music. The minute I finished it, I longed to read it again."―Anna Deavere Smith
Praise for Elizabeth Alexander
"Elizabeth Alexander creates intellectual magic in poem after poem."―The New York Times Book Review
"Elizabeth Alexander is a student, and dare I say, master of the craft. Her work is inspirational in a way that The Great Gatsby...is inspirational, in that it just says so much about who we are."―The Atlantic
"In narratives sweetened by the lyric pulse and pierced through by felicitous turns of irony, Alexander chronicles the world of 'black and tan.' Her poems bristle with the irresistible quality of a world seen fresh."―Rita Dove, The Washington Post
"[Alexander] seems much like Walt Whitman. She sings the American song."―Maya Angelou
"Professor Alexander is a virtuosic writer and a shrewd analyst of American letters, a polyglot who moves fluently from essay to sonnet, from free verse to drama--and in her teaching, traces equally diverse themes."―Slate
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Ficre is an Eritrean who has lived a life of suffering and change, his resilience the shining light that has seen him through wartime and his plight as a refugee. He travels to several countries before finding himself in New York City where he runs a restaurant with his brother while also doing his artwork. He is fluent in several languages and reflects the cultures around him through his artwork - painting, printmaking, photography. He meets Elizabeth, a poet, and they meld their backgrounds together, creating a family filled with singing, love, food and friends.
Ficre touches the lives of many through the food he lovingly prepares and the artwork he creates. He loves to wear bright colors which seem to show off his strength and brightness, a reflection of the sun that shines within him. When he dies suddenly, while on a treadmill, Elizabeth's loss and profound grief are intolerable. She keens to the skies, she cries every day for months, she does not leave her home except to teach her beloved students in the African American Studies Department at Yale.
In this memoir, Elizabeth's grief is palpable but so is the joy and love she experiences in her marriage to Ficre, a devoted and stalwart man. The book pays him homage in a magnificent way, creating from words the picture of a man I wish I had had the privilege to meet. "I loved my friend. He went away from me. There's nothing more to say."
This brilliant volume strips love, family and loss to their essentials. Throughout, Ficre leaps off the page, vibrant and alive.