Warning: These books might contain shocking material for young people. Please be aware.
Whenever I enter a library, I feel just as excited as when I enter one of my favorite shops. It feels wrong to say that I love to read true based stories as many of the stories create sadness and anger in me. Some friends ask why I only want to read true based stories and not a fluffy warm and romantic tale. I believe it’s very important to understand the past and learn from it. The stories I read put many aspects of our own comfortable life in perspective. They let me know that freedom of speech isn’t a normal right that every human being has. These books inform about culture, religion, identity and perseverance. You can read these stories objectively and nuanced in history books or in the newspaper. But these media lack one important attribute: a soul.
1) With dance shoes in Siberian snow
by Sandra Kalniete, Margita Gailitis
Sandra Kalniete was born in a Siberian village in 1952 to Latvian parents who had been banished by the Soviet regime. After Stalin’s death, she and her family were allowed to return to Latvia in 1957. Kalniete went on to study art history, but has devoted her life more to politics and diplomacy than to art. She was an early fighter for Latvian independence in the 1980s and early 1990s, and served as Latvian Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva (1993-1997), to France (1997-2002), and to UNESCO (2000-2002). In 2002 she became Latvia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 2004, she was appointed the first Latvian Commissioner of the European Union.
2) Bluebird: A memoir
by Vesna Maric
A memoir about the experience of being a Bosnian refugee in Britain. It describes the beginning of the war – the machine gun fire that sounded like a sewing machine in the distance – and the author’s family’s growing anxiety, culminating in the decision to send her and her sister to Britain.
3) My Life as a Traitor: An Iranian Memoir
by Zarah Ghahramani
At the age of twenty, an Iranian student named Zarah Ghahramani was swept off the streets of Tehran and taken to the notorious Evin prison, where criminals and political dissidents were held side by side in conditions of legendary brutality. Her crime, she asserts, was in wanting to slide back her headscarf to feel the sun on a few inches of her hair. That modest desire led her to a political activism fueled by the fearless idealism of the young. Her parents begged her to be prudent, but even they could not have imagined the horrors she faced in prison. She underwent psychological and physical torture, hanging on to sanity by scratching messages to fellow prisoners on the latrine door. She fought despair by recalling her idyllic childhood in a sprawling and affectionate family that prized tolerance and freedom of thought. After a show trial, Ghahramani was driven deep into the desert outside Tehran, uncertain if she was to be executed or freed. There she was abandoned to begin the long walk back to reclaim herself. In prose of astonishing dignity and force, Ghahramani recounts the ways in which power seduces and deforms. A richly textured memoir that celebrates a triumph of the individual over the state, “My Life as a Traitor “is an affecting addition to the literature of struggle and dissent. Zarah Ghahramani was born in Tehran in 1981. After her release from prison, she moved to Australia. “My Life as a Traitor “is her first book.
4) In the Name of Honour: A Memoir
by Mukhtar Mai
In June 2002, Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman from the impoverished village of Meerwala, was gang raped by a local clan known as the Mastoi — punishment for indiscretions allegedly committed by the woman’s brother. While certainly not the first account of a female body being negotiated for honor in a family, this time the survivor had bravely chosen to fight back. In doing so, Mai single-handedly changed the feminist movement in Pakistan, one of the world’s most adverse climates for women. By July 2002, the Pakistani government awarded her the equivalent of 8,500 U.S. dollars in compensation money and sentenced her attackers to death — and Mukhtar Mai went on to open a school for girls so that future generations would not suffer, as she had, from illiteracy.
5) (Dutch) Het vergeten kamp
by G. Pauline Kok-Schurgers.
In 1942 geeft het Nederlandse leger in Nederlands-Indië zich over aan het Japanse leger. Alle Nederlanders worden opgesloten in kampen, en Paulines vader wordt tewerkgesteld bij de beruchte Birma Spoorlijn. Pauline wordt van kamp naar kamp geschoven, elk kamp weer een graad erger dan het vorige. Het vergeten kamp is haar persoonlijke verhaal over de marteling, verhongering en wreedheden door de Japanse bezetter. Deze afschuwelijke jaren en het verlies van familie en vrienden veranderen Pauline van een vrolijk, extravert meisje in een teruggetrokken, stille vrouw, voor het leven getekend.Pauline Kok geeft in Het vergeten kamp een stem aan de talloze mensen die onnoembaar leed hebben geleden in de Jappenkampen.