The Light of the World: A Memoir
Poet Elizabeth Alexander (Crave Radiance; the 2009 Inaugural Poem) was enjoying a loving, creative, exultant and full life with her husband, Ficre Ghebreyesus, and their two sons, when Ficre died suddenly. The Light of the World is her record of that man--husband and father, artist, activist and chef--and of Alexander's gratitude for the years she shared with him and the family they made.
This astonishing and naturally poetic memoir of love and loss is vivid with sensory detail. Alexander gives evocative descriptions of Ficre's paintings and the food and music they shared; she counts his scars; she recounts her dreams of him. But her memoir is not a dream: Alexander is lucid and absolutely present. Perhaps to ward off the end, the story she tells starts, and starts again, and starts again: at their respective mothers' pregnancies; at Ficre's 50th birthday, the week of his death; at their meeting at a coffee shop in 1996. In this tender, perceptive portrayal, Ficre--an Eritrean native, a peace-lover born into war--comes alive again.
Language of unrivalled beauty eases a sad story, and Alexander and her sons do make a joyful noise in the end. Their shared dreams, scars, meals and songs are fittingly and exquisitely honored here. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia