Strength in What Remains

By Tracy Kidder
Binding:Hardcover
Publisher:Random House, (8/25/2009)
Language:English



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Tracy Kidder, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the bestsellers The Soul of a New Machine, House, and the enduring classic Mountains Beyond Mountains, has been described by the Baltimore Sun as the “master of the non-fiction narrative.” In this new book, Kidder gives us the superb story of a hero for our time. Strength in What Remains is a wonderfully written, inspiring account of one man’s remarkable American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him–a brilliant testament to the power of will and of second chances.

Deo arrives in America from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, plagued by horrific dreams, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Kidder breaks new ground in telling this unforgettable story as he travels with Deo back over a turbulent life in search of meaning and forgiveness.

An extraordinary writer, Tracy Kidder once again shows us what it means to be fully human by telling a story about the heroism inherent in ordinary people, a story about a life based on hope.



 
 

"Strength in What Remains"
By Tracy Kidder

Average Rating:

This book has not been rated


The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 
 
 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.
 
 
Style and Structure
1. Strength is composed of a short prologue and two sections: 1) Flights and 2) Gusimbura. In the Flights section, Kidder writes in the restricted third person. The reader understands the 1990s upheaval in the African countries of Burundi and Rwanda through Deo's experiences. Deo also describes surviving the immigrant experience in New York City. In general, his African flights recount how he physically survived; in New York, his flights of survival are mostly psychological. The second section of the book, Gusimbura, is written in the first person – giving a voice not just to Deo, but also to the author, and to individuals integral to the redemption of Deo, his intellectual fortitude, and his childhood aspirations. Discuss the structure of the book. What kind of effect does it have on the reading experience?

2.  Strength opens with a post-genocide account of Deo returning to his family's former home in Butanza, Burundi. The author accompanies Deo on this trip. Deo warns Kidder not to mention Deo's friend, Clovis, by name when they arrive in Butanza. To do so would gusimbura (a Kirundi term) all those who knew Clovis. To gusimbura someone, means that an individual, upon hearing the name of a dead loved one, is forced to relive the suffering and sorrow of that loved one's death.  Why do you think Kidder opens the book with this incident? 

3. The title of this nonfiction work is derived from a William Wordsworth poem, "Ode 536: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood."  An excerpt of the poem is reprinted in the front of Strength. Read the full-length poem and draw thematic comparisons between it and Strength, specifically as it relates to the following quote from Chapter 5:
"In her company . . .  he could talk as if he still imagined himself becoming a doctor, even though, as it had been from the start, this was usually just a way of telling her who he used to be."
Wordsworth's poem can be found online at http://www.bartleby.com/101/536.html 

Comprehension and Discussion
FLIGHTS
1. Birth names are contextual in Deo's Burundian culture. For instance, his mother named him "Deogratias" (meaning, "thanks to god"), because she nearly died in childbirth. As you read about Deo's journey, consider and discuss the meanings of the names of people whom he meets. Research your own name's origin and meaning. What do you think about the significance of names? Do they reveal anything about the person? Does your name reveal anything about you?

2. In the first few chapters, Deo compares his first experiences in New York City with his experiences growing up in Burundi. What does he conclude?  Do these conclusions change over time? Explain.

3. Deo is hired as a deliveryman by a food store chain and is unfortunately mistreated by Goss, the manager of the store. Although Deo has been humiliated many times before in his life, especially by his teachers, he considers his mistreatment by Goss and the building superintendants unbearable (Chapter 5).  Why does Deo feel this way?  Do you think he is justified? Explain.

4. In Chapter 4, Deo is befriended by Sharon McKenna, who makes Deo's redemption her personal quest. How does Deo feel about her interventions?  Why do you think she is so insistent?  

5. In Chapter 6, there is a verbal exchange between Deo and a fellow African American health care worker at Fair Oaks Nursing Home. Why is Deo confused by this exchange?

6. In Chapter 7, Deo's grandmother blames a neighboring family for Deo's bout with malaria.  Is there merit to her accusation? What does it say about traditional beliefs and cultural values?

7. Analyze this statement from Chapter 7:
"He would come to feel that history, even more than memory, distorts the present of the past by focusing on big events and making one forget that most people living in the present are otherwise preoccupied, that for them omens often don't exist."

8. In Chapter 8, Deo recites a W.E.B. Dubois poem The Souls of Black Folk on the subway:
"He felt the weight of his ignorance, not simply of letters, but of life, of business, of the humanities; the accumulated sloth and shirking and awkwardness of decades and centuries shackled his hands and feet."  How might this statement sum up the plight of Burundi?  

9. This same Dubois poem also includes the following lines: "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." How does this statement sum up Deo's life in New York City? 

10. In Chapter 8, Deo's tears are replaced by laughter. Why?

GUSIMBURA
1. Why is Deo's account of his interaction with the Russian journalist on the flight to New York City so crushing to him after all he had been through in Burundi?

2. What does Deo's vivid memory of the baby at its dead mother's breast represent to him?

3. Kidder interviews Dr. Joia Mukherjee. Describe her interpretation of Deo.

4. Kidder interviews Dr. Paul Farmer. Describe his interpretation of Deo.

5. According to Deo, becoming a member of Partners in Health was like a whole world opening for him. Why?

6. In Chapter 10, Deo provides his reasoning for refusing psychiatric care: "It's true that I really had, I still do have all these problems. There's no way that they will go away from me. But I deal with them the way I can." What do you think about Deo's philosophy and his decision to forego treatment?

7. As Deo recounts his life to Kidder, Kidder concludes, "I would not have survived." Discuss some of Deo's qualities that enabled his survival. Do you think you would have survived under similar circumstances?

8. What does Deo realize about the demographics of New York City while spending the day lost in the subway system? What are the connections, if any, between the demographics of NYC and his Burundian homeland?  

9. Kidder interviews Charlie and Nancy Wolff. Describe their interpretations of Deo.

10. Kidder interviews Sharon McKenna. Describe her interpretations of Deo.

11. Magenta is a purplish red color. Why do you suppose Sharon sees Deo's color as magenta?

12. During a telephone conversation with Charlie Wolf, Sharon tells Charlie that Deo needs a family. Use the interactions between Sharon and Deo leading up to that first dinner with the Wolf's to explain why Sharon has come to this conclusion.

13. Describe the significance of the door left open in the Mutaho hospital.

14. Deo says that misery is the primary cause of genocide. Do you agree? Explain.

15. In Chapter 13, Kidder accompanies Deo on a return visit to Burundi.  On this trip, Kidder's relationship with Deo changes.  How and why does it change?

16. Deo has used the term "like" on a number of occasions throughout Strength when he describes various situations that have occurred in his life. In Chapter 17, the term is prominent in his discourse as he shows Kidder the memorial at Murambi.  What is the significance of Deo's choice and use of this word while describing the memorial?

17. In Chapter 17, compare Kidder's reaction to visiting the memorial in Murambi to his reaction to visiting the hospital in Mutaho.

18. In the final pages of Chapter 18, while recounting the suicide of a Belgian colonial after the Belgians left Burundi, Deo laughs. We also know that Deo suppressed laughter while hiding among corpses (Chapter 9). These reactions appear to be inconsistent with the Deo, who, as a child, couldn't bear the slaughter of a family cow (Chapter 3). Discuss these inappropriate reactions. What do they indicate about Deo's personality? What do they say about the culture in which he grew up?

19. In the epilogue, Deo recounts the story of a mother who is among a group of Burundian volunteers who help him build a road to his clinic. Three of her children have already died and she carries another sick child of hers as she works.  She explains that she'd rather build a road to a health clinic that will help other children than stay at home to watch her child's inevitable death  [The mother's picture is number 19 on the gallery page of the Village Health Works website: http://www.villagehealthworks.org/Work/Gallery.htm.]   Another Burundian woman says, "You will not pay a penny for this road. We become so much sick because we are poor, but we are not poor because we are lazy." Discuss the resolve of the Burundian people. Why do you think, that even at all costs, they are so committed to seeing Deo's dream become a reality?

Clubie Submitted Discussion Questions
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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, September 2009: Strength in What Remains is an unlikely story about an unreasonable man. Deo was a young medical student who fled the genocidal civil war in Burundi in 1994 for the uncertainty of New York City. Against absurd odds--he arrived with little money and less English and slept in Central Park while delivering groceries for starvation wages--his own ambition and a few kind New Yorkers led him to Columbia University and, beyond that, to medical school and American citizenship. That his rise followed a familiar immigrant's path to success doesn't make it any less remarkable, but what gives Deo's story its particular power is that becoming an American citizen did not erase his connection to Burundi, in either his memory or his dreams for the future. Writing with the same modest but dogged empathy that made his recent Mountains Beyond Mountains (about Deo's colleague and mentor, Dr. Paul Farmer) a modern classic, Tracy Kidder follows Deo back to Burundi, where he recalls the horrors of his narrow escape from the war and begins to build a medical clinic where none had been before. Deo's terrible journey makes his story a hard one to tell; his tirelessly hopeful but clear-eyed efforts make it a gripping and inspiring one to read. --Tom Nissley



Amazon Exclusive: Tracy Kidder on Strength in What Remains 

Strength in What Remains is the story of Deogratias, a young man from the central African nation of Burundi. In 1993, through no fault of his own, he was forced onto a terrifying journey, a journey that split his life in two. First he made a six-months-long escape, on foot, from ethnic violence in Burundi and from genocide in Rwanda. Then, in a strange twist of fate, he was, as it were, transported to New York City, where it sometimes seemed that his travails had only just begun.


I met Deo by chance 6 years ago. When I first heard his story, I had one simple thought: I would not have survived. I hoped in part to reproduce that feeling as I retold his story. I also hoped to humanize what, to most westerners anyway, is a mysterious, little-known part of the world. We hear about mass slaughter in distant countries and we imagine that murder and mayhem define those locales. Deo’s story opens up one of those places into a comprehensible landscape—and also opens up a part of New York that is designed to be invisible, the service entrances of the upper East Side, the camping sites that homeless people use in Central Park. But above all, I think, this is a book about coming to terms with memories. How can a person deal with memories like Deo’s, tormenting memories, memories with a distinctly ungovernable quality?

In the first part of Strength In What Remains, I recount Deo’s story. In the second part, I tell about going back with him to the stations of his life, in New York and Burundi. So the story that I tell isn’t only about the memories that Deo related to me. It’s also about seeing him overtaken by memories—again and again, and sometimes acutely. But Deo didn’t take me to Burundi just to show me around. Giving me a tour of his past was incidental to what he was up to in the present and the future. His story has a denoument that even now amazes me.

Deo is an American citizen. He doesn’t have to go back to Burundi. But he has returned continually and keeps on returning, and, amid the postwar wreckage, with the help of friends and family, he has created a clinic and public health system, free to those who can’t pay, in a rural village—part of a beginning, Deo dreams, of a new Burundi.

This facility was a pile of rocks when I visited the site in the summer of 2006. By the fall of 2008, it had become a medical center with several new buildings, a trained professional staff, and a fully stocked pharmacy. In its first year of operation it treated 21,000 different patients. (The organization that Deo founded and that sponsors and operates this facility is called Village Health Works.)

Deo was very young when he went through his long travail. Several strangers helped to save him from death and despair in Burundi and New York. So did sheer courage and pluck, and also Columbia University, which he attended as an undergraduate. But when it’s come to dealing with the burden of his memories, the public health system and clinic that he founded has been the nearest thing to a solution. In the end, it’s neither forgetting the past nor dwelling on the past that has worked for him. For him the answer has been remembering and acting. I once asked Deo why he had studied philosophy at Columbia. He told me, "I wanted to understand what had happened to me." In the end, he received what most students of philosophy receive—not answers, but more questions. As I was trying to describe his effort to build a clinic, I found myself writing: "Deo had discovered a way to quiet the questions he’d been asking at Columbia. That is, he saw there might be an answer for what troubled him most about the world, an answer that lay in his hands, indeed in his memory. You had to do something."—Tracy Kidder

(Photo © Gabriel Amadeus Cooney)



From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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. (Aug.) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 

From Booklist
Deo was a young medical student in 1994 when ethnic tensions between Hutu and Tutsi in Burundi elevated to the level of massacres. He spent six months on the run from the Hutu militia, saved by a Hutu woman who claimed he was her son, and later he made his way to New York, saved by a former nun who helped him find housing and other assistance. In the first half of the book, Kidder recalls Deo’s struggles as an illegal immigrant, working for poverty wages and sleeping in abandoned buildings, crack houses, and Central Park, all the while recovering from severe trauma and longing for a university setting. Through benefactors, Deo goes on to graduate from Columbia University and to attend medical school at Dartmouth. Eventually working with a nonprofit organization that provides health care in impoverished nations, Deo returned to Burundi to build a clinic. The second half of the book is Kidder’s recollections of accompanying Deo on his return trip home, a frightening journey of remembrances. Kidder uses Deo’s experiences to deliver a very personal and harrowing account of the ethnic genocide in East Central Africa. --Vanessa Bush 

Review
“The journey of Deo achieves mythic importance in Tracy Kidder’s expert hands.”—Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

“Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains is a tour de force. Inspiring. Moving. Gripping. Deo’s story is remarkable, stunning really. His journey is the story of our times, one that keeps the rest of us from forgetting. This book will stir the conscience and resurrect your faith in the human spirit.”—Alex Kotlowitz

"Read this book, and it's one that you will not likely forget. The story of a journey, classical in its way, but contemporary and very modern in its details. It's written with such simplicity and lucidity that it transcends the moment and becomes as powerful and compelling as those journeys of myth." —Jonathan Harr

“The reporting is impeccable, but it’s Kidder’s great feat of sympathetic imagination that dazzles.  Walk a mile in Deo’s shoes; your world will be larger and darker for it.”—William Finnegan, author of Cold New World and Crossing the Line

"Believe me, at the end of this riveting narrative, your eyes will not be dry." —Adam Hochschild


From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition. 

Review
“The journey of Deo achieves mythic importance in Tracy Kidder’s expert hands.”—Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

“Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains is a tour de force. Inspiring. Moving. Gripping. Deo’s story is remarkable, stunning really. His journey is the story of our times, one that keeps the rest of us from forgetting. This book will stir the conscience and resurrect your faith in the human spirit.”—Alex Kotlowitz

"Read this book, and it's one that you will not likely forget. The story of a journey, classical in its way, but contemporary and very modern in its details. It's written with such simplicity and lucidity that it transcends the moment and becomes as powerful and compelling as those journeys of myth." —Jonathan Harr

“The reporting is impeccable, but it’s Kidder’s great feat of sympathetic imagination that dazzles.  Walk a mile in Deo’s shoes; your world will be larger and darker for it.”—William Finnegan, author of Cold New World and Crossing the Line

"Believe me, at the end of this riveting narrative, your eyes will not be dry." —Adam Hochschild 

Product Description
Tracy Kidder, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the bestsellers The Soul of a New Machine, House, and the enduring classic Mountains Beyond Mountains, has been described by the Baltimore Sun as the “master of the non-fiction narrative.” In this new book, Kidder gives us the superb story of a hero for our time. Strength in What Remains is a wonderfully written, inspiring account of one man’s remarkable American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him–a brilliant testament to the power of will and of second chances.

Deo arrives in America from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, plagued by horrific dreams, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Kidder breaks new ground in telling this unforgettable story as he travels with Deo back over a turbulent life in search of meaning and forgiveness. 

An extraordinary writer, Tracy Kidder once again shows us what it means to be fully human by telling a story about the heroism inherent in ordinary people, a story about a life based on hope. 



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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Part One, Flights   
Chapter One 


Bujumbura-NewYork, May 1994   

On the outskirts of the capital, Bujumbura, there is a small international airport. It has a modern terminal with intricate roofs and domed metal structures that resemble astronomical observatories. It is the kind of terminal that seems designed to say that here you leave the past behind, the future has arrived, behold the wonders of aviation. But in Burundi in 1994, for the lucky few with tickets, an airplane was just the fastest, safest way out. It was flight. 

  In the spring of that year, violence and chaos governed Burundi. To the west, the hills above Bujumbura were burning. Smoke seemed to be pouring off the hills, as the winds of mid-May carried the plumes of smoke downward in undulating sheets, in the general direction of the airport. A large passenger jet was parked on the tarmac, and a disordered crowd was heading toward it in sweaty haste. Deo felt as if he were being carried by the crowd, immersed in an unfamiliar river. The faces around him were mostly white, and though many were black or brown, there was no one whom he recognized, and so far as he could tell there were no country people. As a little boy, he had crouched behind rocks or under trees the first times he'd seen airplanes passing overhead. He had never been so close to a plane before. Except for buildings in the capital, this was the largest man-made thing he'd ever seen. He mounted the staircase quickly. Only when he had entered the plane did he let himself look back, staring from inside the doorway as if from a hiding place again.   In Deo's mind, there was danger everywhere. If his heightened sense of drama was an inborn trait, it had certainly been nourished. For months every situation had in fact been dangerous. Climbing the stairs a moment before, he had imagined a voice in his head telling him not to leave. But now he stared at the hills and he imagined that everything in Burundi was burning. Burundi had become hell. He finally turned away, and stepped inside. In front of him were cushioned chairs with clean white cloths draped over their backs, chairs in perfect rows with little windows on the ends. This was the most nicely appointed room he'd ever seen. It looked like paradise compared to everything outside. If it was real, it couldn't last.   

The plane was packed, but he felt entirely alone. He had a seat by a window. Something told him not to look out, and something told him to look. He did both. His hands were shaking. He felt he was about to vomit. Everyone had heard stories of planes being shot down, not only the Rwandan president's plane back in April but others as well. He was waiting for this to happen after the plane took off. For several long minutes, whenever he glanced out the window all he saw was smoke. When the air cleared and he could see the landscape below, he realized that they must already have crossed the Akanyaru River, which meant they had left Burundi and were now above Rwanda. He had crossed a lot of the land down there on foot. It wasn't all that small. To see it transformed into a tiny piece of time and space-this could only happen in a dream.  

He gazed down, face pressed against the windowpane. Plumes of smoke were also rising from the ground of what he took to be Rwanda-if anything, more smoke than around Bujumbura. A lot of it was coming from the banks of muddy-looking rivers. He thought, "People are being slaughtered down there." But those sights didn't last long. When he realized he wasn't seeing smoke anymore, he took his face away from the window and felt himself begin to relax, a long-forgotten feeling.  

He liked the cushioned chair. He liked the sensation of flight. How wonderful to travel in an easy chair instead of on foot. He began to realize how constricted his intestines and stomach had felt, as if wound into knots for months on end, as the tightness seeped away. Maybe the worst was over now, or maybe he was just in shock. "I don't really know where I'm going," he thought. But if there was to be no end to this trip, that would be all right. A memory from world history class surfaced. Maybe he was like that man who got lost and discovered America. He craned his neck and looked upward through the window. There was nothing but darkening blue. He looked down and realized just how high above the ground he was seated. "Imagine if this plane crashes," he thought. "That would be awful." Then he said to himself, "I don't care. It would be a good death."  

For the moment, he was content with that thought, and with everything around him. The only slightly troubling thing was the absence of French in the cabin. He knew for a fact-he'd been taught it was so since elementary school-that French was the universal language, and universal because it was the best of all languages. He knew Russians owned this plane. Only Aeroflot, he'd been told,  was still offering commercial flights from Bujumbura. So it wasn't strange that all the signs in the cabin were in a foreign script. But he couldn't find a single word written in French, even on the various cards in the seat pocket.  

The plane landed in Entebbe, in Uganda. As he waited in the terminal for his next flight, Deo watched what looked like a big family make a fuss over a young man about his age, a fellow passenger as it turned out. When the flight started to board, the whole bunch around this boy began weeping and wailing. The young man was wiping tears from his eyes as he walked toward the plane. Probably he was just going away on a trip. Probably he would be coming back soon. In his mind, Deo spoke to the young man: "You are in tears. For what? Here you have this huge crowd of family." He felt surprised, as if by a distant memory, that there were, after all, many small reasons for people to cry. His own mind kept moving from one extreme to another. Everything was a crisis, and nothing that wasn't a crisis mattered. He thought that if he were as lucky as that boy and still had that much family left, he wouldn't be crying. For that matter, be wouldn't be boarding airplanes, leaving his country behind.   

Deo had grown up barefoot in Burundi, but for a peasant boy he had done well. He was twenty-four. Until recently he had been a medical student, for three years at or near the top of his class. In his old faux-leather suitcase, which he had reluctantly turned over to the baggage handler in the airport in Bujumbura, he had packed some of the evidence of his success: the French dictionary that elementary school teachers gave only to prized students, and the general clinical text and one of the stethoscopes that he had saved up to buy. But he had spent the past six months on the run, first from the eruption of violence in Burundi, then from the slaughter in Rwanda.  

In geography class in school, Deo had learned that the most important parts of the world were France and Burundi's colonial master, Belgium. When someone he knew, usually a priest, was going abroad, that person was said to be going to "Iburaya." And while this usually meant Belgium or France, it could also mean any place that was far away and hard to imagine. Deo was heading for Iburaya. In this case, that meant New York City.  

He had one wealthy friend who had seen more of the world than East Central Africa, a fellow medical student named Jean. And it was Jean who had decided that New York was where he should go. Deo was traveling on a commercial visa. Jean's French father had written a letter identifying Deo as an employee on a mission to America. He was supposed to be going to New York to sell coffee. Deo had read up on coffee beans in case he was questioned, but he wasn't selling anything. Jean's father had also paid for the plane tickets. A fat booklet of tickets. 

  From Entebbe, Deo flew to Cairo, then to Moscow. He slept a lot. He would wake with a start and look around the cabin. When he realized that no one resembled anyone he knew, he would relax again. During his medical training and in his country's history, pigmentation had certainly mattered, but he wasn't troubled by the near total whiteness of the faces around him on the plane that he boarded in Moscow. White skin hadn't been a marker of danger these past months. He had heard of French soldiers behaving badly in Rwanda, and had even caught glimpses of them training militiamen in the camps, but waking up and seeing a white person in the next seat wasn't alarming. No one called him a cockroach. No one held a machete. You learned what to look out for, and after a while you learned to ignore the irrelevant. He did wonder again from time to time why he wasn't hearing people speak French.  

When his flight from Moscow landed, he was half asleep. He followed the other passengers out of the plane. He thought this must be New York. The first thing to do was find his bag. But the airport terminal distracted him. It was like nothing he'd ever seen before, an indoor place of shops where everyone looked happy. And everyone was large. Compared to him anyway. He'd never been heavy, but his pants, which had fit all right six months before, were bunched up at the waist. When he looked down at himself, the end of his belt seemed as long to him as a monkey's tail. His belly was concave under his shirt. Here in Iburaya everyone's clothes looked better than his.  

He started walking. Looking around for a sign with a luggage symbol on it, he came to a corridor with a glassed-in wall. He glanced out, then stopped and stared. There were green fields out there in the distance, and on those fields cows were grazing. From this far away, they might have been his family's herd. His last images of cows were of murdered and suffering animals-decapitated cows and cows with their front legs chopped off, still alive and bellowing by the sides of the road to Bujumbura and even in Bujumbura. These cows looked so happy, just like the people around him. How was this poss...
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Tracy Kidder graduated from Harvard and studied at the University of Iowa. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes. The author of Mountains Beyond Mountains, My Detachment, Home Town, Old Friends, Among Schoolchildren, House, and The Soul of a New Machine, Kidder lives in Massachusetts and Maine.


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