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The Light of the World: A Memoir (Pulitzer Prize in Letters: Biography Finalist) Paperback – September 6, 2016
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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.
"I just finished THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD by Elizabeth Alexander. It's a memoir about coping with the death of her husband, and it's magnificent."― First Lady Michelle Obama, from an interview in The Skimm
"It is both raw and exquisitely crafted, mercilessly direct and sometimes lavishly metaphorical... THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD is, quite simply, a miracle."―Boston Sunday Globe
"In THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, Alexander discovers a warmth that will remind some readers of the deeper truth of grieving: It is a sign of love."―New York Times Book Review
"A deeply intimate and lyrical portrait."―Essence
"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
"With tenderness and fierce poetic precision, [Alexander] realizes a simple truth: that death only deepens the richness of a life journey that must push on into the future. A delicate, existentially elegiac memoir."―Kirkus
"A radiant book of love's everlastingness and art's infinite sustenance."―Booklist (starred review)
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It's a painful read yet ultimately a tribute to the beauty of life. The author was loved and is still loved even though here lover is gone. Read it and go give your family a hug and a kiss. They are ultimately the only worthwhile endeavor in your life.