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The Dragons, the Giant, the Women

(10 customer reviews)

$16.00$26.00

by Wayétu Moore

Synopsis

An engrossing memoir of escaping the First Liberian Civil War and building a life in the United States

When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunion her father promised her, war breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking and hiding for three weeks until they arrive in the village of Lai. Finally, a rebel soldier smuggles them across the border to Sierra Leone, reuniting the family and setting them off on yet another journey, this time to the United States.

Spanning this harrowing journey in Moore’s early childhood, her years adjusting to life in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to Liberia, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply moving story of the search for a home in the midst of upheaval. Moore has a novelist’s eye for suspense and emotional depth, and this unforgettable memoir is full of imaginative, lyrical flights and lush prose. In capturing both the hazy magic and the stark realities of what is becoming an increasingly pervasive experience, Moore shines a light on the great political and personal forces that continue to affect many migrants around the world and calls us all to acknowledge the tenacious power of love and family.

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About this book

268 Pages
5 - 6 Hours to read
73k Total words

Description

An engrossing memoir of escaping the First Liberian Civil War and building a life in the United States

When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunion her father promised her, war breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking and hiding for three weeks until they arrive in the village of Lai. Finally, a rebel soldier smuggles them across the border to Sierra Leone, reuniting the family and setting them off on yet another journey, this time to the United States.

Spanning this harrowing journey in Moore’s early childhood, her years adjusting to life in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to Liberia, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply moving story of the search for a home in the midst of upheaval. Moore has a novelist’s eye for suspense and emotional depth, and this unforgettable memoir is full of imaginative, lyrical flights and lush prose. In capturing both the hazy magic and the stark realities of what is becoming an increasingly pervasive experience, Moore shines a light on the great political and personal forces that continue to affect many migrants around the world and calls us all to acknowledge the tenacious power of love and family.


  • Graywolf Press; June 2020
  • ISBN: 9781644451281
  • Title: The Dragons, the Giant, the Women
  • Author: Wayétu Moore
  • Imprint: Graywolf Press
  • Language: English

In The Press

“Immersive, exhilarating. . . . This memoir adds an essential voice to the genre of migrant literature, challenging false popular narratives that migration is optional, permanent, and always results in a better life.”The New York Times Book Review

“In her bruising new memoir, Moore describes the perilous journey as well as her experience of being a black immigrant living in the American South. Through it all, she threads an urgent narrative about the costs of survival and the strength of familial love.”TIME

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a beautifully written book about the experience of migrating—a story, particularly at this moment, that can never be told enough.”Bitch Media

“With the same fabled quality of She Would Be King, Moore embraces the fantastical elements of her experiences to weave a story of migration that compels readers to see migration narratives in a new way: as a multidimensional story that comes alive through more than one approach.”Hippocampus

“Building to a thrumming crescendo, the pages almost fly past. Readers will be both enraptured and heartbroken by Moore’s intimate yet epic story of love for family and home.”Publishers Weekly starred review

“Moore’s narrative style shines, weaving moments of lightness into a story of pain and conflict, family and war, loss, and reunion.”Library Journal starred review

“Identity, family ties, heroism, and gender roles are beautifully woven in Moore’s fable-like narrative. . . . Moore’s observation that ‘the best stories do not always end happily, but happiness will find its way in there somehow’ captures the emotional complexity of this powerful, stirring, and imaginatively allegorical memoir.”Booklist starred review

“Wayétu Moore has written an elegant, inspired, page-turning memoir I couldn’t put down. Destined to become a classic!”—Mary Karr

“A riveting narrative of survival and resilience and a tribute to the fierce love between parents and children.”—Mary Laura Philpott

“A propulsive, heart-rending memoir of love and war and peace. . . . The Dragons, The Giant, the Women is a major contribution to the new literature of African immigration.”—Namwali Serpell

“Deft and deeply human, Wayetu Moore’s The Dragons, the Giant, the Women had me pinned from its first page to its last.”—Mira Jacob

“A moving and richly drawn tale of a family threatened by violence in ‘90s Liberia. . . . A powerful, utterly convincing, and unforgettable story.”—Chigozie Obioma

“Wayétu Moore stretches the art of writing on family, war, and movement to mythical heights with her otherworldly poeticism.”—Morgan Jerkins


About The Author

Wayétu Moore is the author of She Would Be King and the founder of One Moore Book. She is a graduate of Howard University, Columbia University, and the University of Southern California. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Additional information

FORMAT

Hardcover, Paperback

10 reviews for The Dragons, the Giant, the Women

  1. AuthorAnnaBella

    The Dragon The Giant The Women encapsulates some of life’s most solemn issues: war, racism, migration, love, psychological issues, the power of hope and prayer, and then some. Wayétu shared with us a first-hand account of the war in Liberia. Skillfully she shifted gears as she recanted events from a child’s perspective and then to the realism of an adult. Wayétu educated us, giving us just bits of Liberia’s rich culture – tribes, language, folk tales, and tribal remedies. Although the story was filled with how hateful we as humans can be against each other, there was a more powerful narrative that reigned from cover to cover – one of love, strength, support, community, hope, and prayer. Her ability in her early years to pull from her ancestral gift of storytelling to vividly juxtapose who, The Dragon The Giants The Women all were. I especially admired Ma and Satta’s strength and tenacity – unwavering in their decisions.What great lengths would you go for love and family?Memoir Junkie – AuthorAnnaBella

  2. Gary M. Doolittle

    You can feel the pain and anxiety as well as the amazing calm and love of this family as they try to negotiate one of the modern tragedies of our times with the war in Liberia.There is nothing self serving in this story just the clear view of courage and love in one family. So much of the sadness reflects the abundance of destruction of the modern world that our culture brings upon itself, whether it is rural Texas or the jungles of Liberia. Her remedy is not explicitly proscribed but is inherent in the story as you see her family able to embrace change and yet never let go of their love for each other. One of the most inspiring books you will ever read.

  3. Kindle Customer

    I devoured this book. All the love and hope it contains will stay with me, and I can’t wait to read what Wayetu Moore writes next.

  4. drinking tea with mittens on

    the memoir of a young woman in today’s world of her family’s abrupt escape from rebels in liberia kept me glued to each page, not because i thrive on drama but because i thrive on eloquence and poetry. were i to recap the story line here, you would say you’ve heard it all before. but remarkably, this memoir is flush with layers of beauty and pain such that the two cannot be separated. i’m not one to be moved to tears at all and yet several times i was moved to tears with this book. imagine being the grandmother fleeing bullets with three young granddaughters (almost barefoot) hanging on to you and when you cannot run anymore you M U S T keep running. when i read this book i had to stop several times to research the timeline because yes yes yes this DID happen in my lifetime. people all over the world are fleeing and struggling and asking that we listen and truly hear them. this book compels the reader: sit down and feel this life with me.when i did tear myself away from the narrative long enough to contemplate the beautiful method in which it was structured, as a writer myself, i was impressed with the choices the author and editors made in the way this story is told. who are the dragons? and the giant? and why “the women”? from my own experience i already know how so often the women in our families hold our world on their backs and this book further confirms that. not to discount the remarkable contributions the author’s father added to the flight out of liberia. but the women! the women! and their reach for education! education makes the difference time and time again and although this book doesn’t dwell on that, education weaves through the fabric of the author’s life.i’ll be sharing this book with my sister (which means it is at least a 4 star book) but i will want it back to keep on my shelf (which means this is a five star book). every five star book wrecks me and makes it hard to find another book to read because i want the same experience i had with THIS book. i know i’ll come back to read it again so i can linger in the layers of beauty and pain that braid into a story of courage and embrace.

  5. Susan Henderson

    This memoir is not only a compelling story of a young girl fleeing civil war in Liberia, but it is also a work of art. Start with the title, the way young Wayétu, in part due to her father’s desire to guard his children’s innocence, experienced the war as a fairy tale, complete with dragons, a protective giant, and the thunder of drums as they ran. There is also a breathtaking level of thematic symmetry, both with the theme of running and also with the  search for the young rebel girl who helped reunite her family. There is the boldness of risky but, ultimately, perfect choices–the author taking on her mother’s voice to narrate a crucial piece of family history; the trust that adventures in dating earned their place in this book as much as war. And then there is the beauty of knowing which moments to capture, which moments to slow. I want so badly to quote the prose used to describe her father’s reaction to a photo, but it is worth being surprised by the goosebumps of it. The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is an emotional, magical, and revolutionary story of a woman learning to own the fullness of her story, her history, and her power.  

  6. Elena L.

    “Skin color was king – king above nationality, king above life stories, and, yes, even king above Christ”Moore’s memoir is moving, beautiful yet heartbreaking. From Liberian Civil War to immigration to America, we are transported into her life and the author drives us through a journey filled with Liberian culture. I was able to feel the effect of war trauma during Moore’s childhood on her adulthood; also the hardships and racism that Moore suffered while trying to blend in the American culture/society and adjust to a new life. Once she was comfortable with her foreign identity, she started to struggle with the Liberian heritage. The subject of race is thoroughly explored in this memoir, as well as themes of war, family strength, resilience, mother-daughter relationship, cultural identity and immigrant’s life.The expressive and lavish language made her experiences so vivid that I could relate in a personal level. In addition, I was absorbed in a way that it felt like I was reading fiction. Read this memoir![ I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review ]

  7. David R. Woods

    Review I loved Wayétu Moore’s new book. I spent two years in The Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) which gave me some personal experience of that which I experienced through this book. But it was also a vividly fresh and powerful experience. I saw her Liberia through the eyes of a five-year old Liberian child as she survived a terrifying world of rebel soldiers (“Dragons”) from which she was sheltered by a “Giant” of a father and by strong, courageous “Women” — her mother, grandmother, and an amazing woman (Satta) recruited to extract her, her two sisters, and her father from a remote hideout and bring them to the relative safety of neighboring Sierra Leone, whence they departed for the United States. And then I saw the same experience through the eyes of the mother who returned from New York City (where she was a student) to facilitate the family’s rescue through the above-mentioned Satta.Wayétu Moore’s writing expresses the emotions, the culture of family and ethnic groups, and the suspense of a gripping personal story through a vivid language resonant with the sounds of Liberian English and Liberian life. (less)flagcomment · see review

  8. Kindle Customer

    The author was five when a brutal civil war broke out in Liberia. She was living with her grandparents and pay her and two siblings. Her mother had traveled abroad for a college education in America. Liberia at the time of the war, was considered pretty well off in Africa and a place people went to find work. The war causes the family to flee to the Sierra Leone border to escape but the border is closed. They try to get word to Mam, their mother s the USA to come rescue them. A very well written book.

  9. avidREADER

    This is a stunning, lyrical memoir and the best read of 2020. I didn’t want to put it down and stop reading.A first hand account of the author at five years old fleeing on foot for three weeks with her family during the First Liberian Civil War. The time and perspectives masterfully shift throughout her memoir from a five year old’s escape to present day reflections of growing up in America and also her mother. Themes of family, love and faith flow through this book with such power.We all need to hear this story right now.

  10. Kelly

    The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a beautifully written, complex look at Wayetu Moore’s own story as well as the story of her family and one of many stories of Liberian refugees in the 1990s. Not only does Moore share the story of her family’s journey out of Monrovia, she shows us snapshots of her self beyond her origins in Liberia from her her childhood and coming of age in the “colorblind” America of the 1990s and early 2000s, and experience as a young Black woman in the time of Black Lives Matters. I took great pleasure in going along on Moore’s journey and hearing her story through her unique, periodically unexpected and truly brilliant prose.** I received an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **

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