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“Strength in What Remains”

Strength in What RemainsAmerica is an immigrant nation made up of people who fled persecution, starvation and strife in search of a better life. The typical story is a bit different for Deogratis, the young man in Tracy Kidder’s nonfiction work, “Strength in What Remains.” Deo fled from the horrifying civil war in Burundi and neighboring Rwanda in 1994, eventually making his way to New York City. There, Deo faced a war within himself — lonely, homeless and alone to grapple with the nightmares of the civil war he had just escaped from. Dwight Garner of The New York Times says, “Mr. Kidder’s prose handles beautifully, but there are places it can’t take you, moral and intellectual territory that remain out of reach. The glimpses of the atrocities in Burundi in ‘Strength in What Remains’ are, for example, carefully curated: bellowing cows with their front legs cut off here, dogs with severed limbs in their mouths there.” Kidder doesn’t dwell on the atrocities of the past, instead focusing on Deo’s rise. He ends up graduating from Columbia University and starts a medical clinic in his native country, through the help of a nun and a generous New York couple. The Boston Globe says of the book, “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.”


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