True stories always resonate strongly with me, if only for the fact that someone has lived through an incredible experience that is worth sharing. Here are a handful of recent stories that I recommend.
The memoir of a Pakistani mother of 5, who is currently in prison awaiting the result of her appeal against her sentence to hang under her country’s blasphemy laws, is a profound story of minority oppression. Her crime was being a Christian and drinking water from a well used by her Muslim friends. Apparently the royalties of the book go to Asia Bibi’s family, who are in hiding from Islamic extremists.
For more information on Bibi’s plight, see http://www.callformercy.com/
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
The author spent three years among the dwellers of a Mumbai slum and her experience has translated into a beautifully written account of the residents’ efforts to earn a living, raise their families, and struggle to survive. Boo’s eloquent depiction of the setting and its vivid characters had me standing in the muddy ground alongside them, amongst their tin shacks, caught up in their rivalries, and empathising with their hardships.
This is an inspirational memoir of a daughter born to Indian immigrants in the UK. Brought up in a western world, far from the cultural traditions of her roots, Jasvinder ran away from home at the age of 16 to escape a forced marriage. Her family subsequently disowned her and she went on to found the non-profit organisation, Karma Nirvana, to support men and women affected by honour-based crimes and forced marriages.
This is the true story of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped. His heartbreaking life of forced labour, hunger, torture, and the execution of his family members, continues even after he finds freedom in America, as he struggles to assimilate in a world totally foreign to him. It is a story of bravery, luck, and human spirit.