Praise for Tracy Kidder’s Strength In What Remains
“That 63-year-old Tracy Kidder may have just written his finest work indeed, one of the truly stunning books I've read this year is proof that the secret to memorable nonfiction is so often the writer’s readiness to be surprised. Deo’s experience can feel like this era’s version of the Ellis Island migration. Deo is propelled, so often, by pure will, and his victories…summon a feeling of restored confidence in human nature and American opportunity. Then we plunge into hell. Having only glimpses of Deo’s past, we suddenly get a full-blown portrait. Kidder’s rendering of what Deo endured and survived just before he boarded the plane for New York is one of the most powerful passages of modern nonfiction.”
–Ron Suskind, The New York Time Book Review
“Kidder tells Deo's story with characteristic skill and sensitivity in a complex narrative that moves back and forth through time to build a richly layered portrait. One of the pleasures of reading Kidder is that sooner or later, in most of his books, someone puts us in mind of the closing lines from &'grave;Middlemarch'': &'grave;For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.''”
“A tale of unspeakable barbarism and unshakeable strength.” –Time Magazine
“It is a mark of the skill and empathy of Mr. Kidder, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, that he makes Deo's story come alive believably–as the experience of a real individual–and avoids…the usual tropes of a triumph-of-the- human-spirit tale. [T]he book encourages a general hope that individuals can transcend even the greatest horrors.”
–Wall Street Journal
"Strength in What Remains" builds in magnitude and poignancy. It is moving without being uplifting, because Kidder has the intelligence to avoid any hint of the saccharine within its pages.” –Chicago Tribune
“[Tracy Kidder’s] kind of literary journalism…involves seeing the world through the eyes of those he writes about; not judging them, simply presenting them as they move through life… Kidder is one of the best, if not the best, at it, garnering a Pulitzer, a National Book Award and generations of grateful readers.” –Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times
“In its sober ability to astonish, this may well be Tracy Kidder's best book.”
–Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Tracy Kidder's new book "Strength in What Remains" is...a narrative infused with a broad, universal appeal and occasional touches of brilliance. He offers us fine prose, complex characters, and realistic portrayals. Deo's resilience, his struggle to overcome adversity strikes a chord in all of us. His story reaffirms our hope that one person can make a difference... [T]his book is one not to be missed. –Seattle Times
Tracy Kidder is probably one of the few authors alive who can craft a narrative from the extremes of despair and hope and make it work beautifully. Kidder is a master of creative nonfiction, employing both journalistic and novelistic techniques to tell a true story, compellingly. –Steve Weinberg, Raleigh News & Observer
“With an anthropologist’s eye and a novelist’s pen, Pulitzer Prize—winning Kidder (Mountains Beyond Mountains) recounts the story of Deo, the Burundian former medical student turned American émigré at the center of this strikingly vivid story…. This profoundly gripping, hopeful and crucial testament is a work of the utmost skill, sympathy and moral clarity.”
–Publishers Weekly ( starred review)
“A tale of ethnocide, exile and healing by a master of narrative nonfiction…. Terrifying at turns, but tremendously inspiring…a key document in the growing literature devoted to postgenocidal justice.” –Kirkus Reviews
"Read this book, and it's one that you will not likely forget. The story of a journey, classical in its way, but contemporary and very modern in its details. It's written with such simplicity and lucidity that it transcends the moment and becomes as powerful and compelling as those journeys of myth." –Jonathan Harr, author of A Civil Action and The Lost Painting
“The reporting is impeccable, but it’s Kidder’s great feat of sympathetic imagination that dazzles. Walk a mile in Deo’s shoes; your world will be larger and darker for it.”
–William Finnegan, author of Cold New World and Crossing the Line
“The journey of Deo achieves mythic importance in Tracy Kidder’s expert hands.”
–Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of Random Family
“Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains is a tour de force. Inspiring. Moving. Gripping. Deo’s story is remarkable, stunning really. His journey is the story of our times, one that keeps the rest of us from forgetting. This book will stir the conscience and resurrect your faith in the human spirit.” –Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here
"Believe me, at the end of this riveting narrative, your eyes will not be dry."
–Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost
When the massacre of his people began, young Deo was a Burundian medical student. For six months, he stayed one step ahead of the Hutu militia, his life saved at one point by a kind Hutu woman who pretended that he was her son. Finally he made his way to America, but his troubles were far from over. In this book, so aptly titled, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder describes Deo's hard days and long nights as an illegal immigrant in the most dangerous parts of New York; sleeping in abandoned buildings and crack houses, working at starvation wages. Though still grappling with his African nightmares, he longs to resume his education. Finally, with the help of benefactors, he is able to fulfill that ambition, eventually completing his medical studies at Dartmouth. Then he does the nearly unthinkable: He returns to his still-ravaged homeland to build a clinic. Accompanied by Kidder, he travels through the scenes of the genocide. Now in paperback. (Hand-selling tip: As one early reviewer wrote, Kidder writes with "an anthropologist's eye and a novelist's pen.")
That 63-year-old Tracy Kidder may have just written his finest workindeed, one of the truly stunning books I've read this yearis proof that the secret to memorable nonfiction is so often the writer's readiness to be surprised…Kidder's approach is a reminder of what can make American nonfiction so exceptional although, of late, it is rare. It's that bottom-up quality that defies big-budget marketing and calculation, the search from on high for a "sure thing." In this connected age, disruptive changeand transforming insightsbubble up furiously from the least likely places. Kidder saw that bottom-up flash of energy in the smile of a peripheral man. And we are lucky he did.
The New York Times Book Review
I read with great interest. Mr. Kidder relates the story of Deo's rural childhood in Burundi with patient grace and attention to detail. He has a casual mastery of complex topics, like the history of suspicion and animosity between Hutus and Tutsis…Strength in What Remains is perhaps at its finest as an examination of the nature of human charity and good will.
The New York Times
…extraordinarily stirring…It's certainly not the first time we've heard heartbreaking accounts of the civil wars in Africa. But there is a touching intimacy about Deogratias's tale, and it forces us to look hard at the baffling history of the region.
The Washington Post
With an anthropologist's eye and a novelist's pen, Pulitzer Prize-winning Kidder (Mountains Beyond Mountains) recounts the story of Deo, the Burundian former medical student turned American émigré at the center of this strikingly vivid story. Told in flashbacks from Deo's 2006 return visit to Burundi to mid-1990s New York and the Burundi of childhood memory and young adulthood-as the Rwandan genocide spilled across the border following the same inflamed ethnic divisions-then picking up in 2003, when author and subject first meet, Deo's experience is conveyed with a remarkable depth of vision and feeling. Kidder renders his subject with deep yet unfussy fidelity and the conflict with detail and nuance. While the book might recall Dave Eggers's novelized version of a real-life Sudanese refugee's experience in What Is the What, reading this book hardly covers old ground, but enables one to walk in the footsteps of its singular subject and see worlds new and old afresh. This profoundly gripping, hopeful and crucial testament is a work of the utmost skill, sympathy and moral clarity. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A tale of ethnocide, exile and healing by a master of narrative nonfiction. Deogratias, Deo for short, is a young African man who would be easy to lose in the busy streets of New York-timid, unsure of which subway goes where, speaking only halting English. So he arrived more than a decade ago, one of many with a sobering story. From Burundi, he narrowly escaped being massacred for being Tutsi, then fled across the border to Rwanda, where he narrowly escaped death in many guises. In New York, he was befriended by a kindhearted Senegalese who invited him to join a community of squatters from West Africa, Jamaica and other foreign lands. But when his friend returned to Africa-"it's so hard here," he told Deo-the young Burundian was on his own, living on the streets, sleeping in parks and libraries. From there, by virtue of hard work and personal charm, he steadily rose in a way that would do Horatio Alger proud. He gained admission to Columbia and worked to finish the medical degree he was earning back home, all the while sending hard-earned money to relatives and taking elective courses in literature and the humanities. When Kidder (My Detachment, 2005, etc.) picks up the tale in the first person, he accompanies Deo on a return trip to a remote part of Burundi, where the former refugee built a hospital. Upon seeing this place, called Village Health Works, one Hutu man who had pledged to killing Tutsis remarks, "I wish I had spent my life trying to do something like this." The moment, Kidder makes clear, does not portend forgiveness, for the graves of untold hundreds of thousands are still too fresh-but it does speak to the possibility of remembrance and, one hopes, reconciliation.Terrifying at turns, but tremendously inspiring-like Andrew Rice's The Teeth May Smile But the Heart Does Not Forget (2009), a key document in the growing literature devoted to postgenocidal justice.