4 incredible memoirs written by novelists

Books

Jami Attenberg (All This Could Be Yours) looks back on her years as a roaming artist in I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home. Attenberg has lived an uncompromising life as a writer, and she muses about her choices in this forthright memoir. Frequently crossing the country to promote her books, Attenberg is most at home when she’s on the move. The nature of the creative process and the human need for connection are among the book’s many rich discussion topics.

In I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death, Maggie O’Farrell (Hamnet) recalls the harrowing moments that have shaped her as a woman and mother. From an illness that almost claimed her life as a child to a dangerous dive off a cliff in Scotland, O’Farrell details her many near-death experiences. Over the course of 17 chapters, she considers life’s impermanence and the ways in which our bodies betray us. The result is an extraordinary narrative full of poetry and courage.

Akwaeke Emezi (The Death of Vivek Oji) delivers a compelling account of their artistic growth and search for identity in Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir. Comprised of letters the author writes to friends and colleagues, the narrative is a captivating chronicle of personal transformation. Emezi, who hails from Nigeria, put down roots in New Orleans and has experienced literary success, even as they continued to seek a more authentic existence. Uncertainty and longing animate their correspondence, and Emezi uses the epistolary form to great effect as they question long-held notions of identity, gender and family.

Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing) reflects on the costs of structural racism in Men We Reaped: A Memoir. The death of her brother and a number of male friends inspired Ward to explore mortality and how loss impacts the living. In this searing memoir, she remembers her Mississippi upbringing and the ways in which economic inequality, drugs and societal stressors create an environment in which Black men are needlessly sacrificed. Ward writes with sensitivity about mourning and moving forward, and themes of race, grief and gender will inspire meaningful dialogue among readers.

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