'Tracy Kidder may have just written his finest work ... one of the truly stunning books I've read this year' New York Times
About the book
Strength in What Remains recounts the remarkable experiences of Deo, a medical student from Burundi who narrowly survived two genocides, first in his own country, then Rwanda. Through sheer fortitude, and the astonishing kindness of strangers, Deo fled to New York. But his ordeal was far from over. He endured daily discrimination in his menial job, and left his first home - a Harlem tenement building - for the greater safety of sleeping rough in Central Park. Again the generosity of those he encountered prevailed. Deo was introduced to a couple who would in time virtually adopt him, and in the coming years he graduated from Colombia, obtained US citizenship and returned to Burundi to pursue his dream of founding a clinic. In this powerful book, Tracy Kidder brings to light the universality of the human condition through Deo's extraordinary story of suffering and survival.
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
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... Kidder has become a high priest of the narrative arts by diving deep into an improbable subject or character with little more than a hunch as to what he might eventually find... he has worked relentlessly to carry on the tradition of John McPhee, sublimating ego in a tireless search for somewhere to hide, for a subject into which to vanish and live, sometimes for years. Few have been better at this than Kidder... [who writes] books illuminated by a glowing humanism... The story seems to tell itself, but that's never the way it really happens... Kidder's approach is a reminder of what can make American nonfiction so exceptional
Echoes Dave Eggers' What is the What... a riveting, cogent third person account of ethnic catastrophe and migrant survival that seemingly places the reader right inside Deo's body and soul... Kidder handles his explosive material with sensitivity and calm
For an inspirational story one need look no further than the uplifted life of Deo
The book encourages a general hope that individuals can transcend even the greatest horrors.