web site hit counter The Light of the World - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Light of the World

Availability: Ready to download

In The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. Channeling her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid prose, Alexander tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband's death, and the solace found in In The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. Channeling her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid prose, Alexander tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband's death, and the solace found in caring for her two teenage sons, Alexander universalizes a very personal quest for meaning and acceptance in the wake of loss. The Light of the World is at once an endlessly compelling memoir and a deeply felt meditation on the blessings of love, family, art, and community. It is also a lyrical celebration of a life well-lived and a paean to the priceless gift of human companionship. For those who have loved and lost, or for anyone who cares what matters most, The Light of the World is required reading.


Compare

In The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. Channeling her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid prose, Alexander tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband's death, and the solace found in In The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. Channeling her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid prose, Alexander tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband's death, and the solace found in caring for her two teenage sons, Alexander universalizes a very personal quest for meaning and acceptance in the wake of loss. The Light of the World is at once an endlessly compelling memoir and a deeply felt meditation on the blessings of love, family, art, and community. It is also a lyrical celebration of a life well-lived and a paean to the priceless gift of human companionship. For those who have loved and lost, or for anyone who cares what matters most, The Light of the World is required reading.

30 review for The Light of the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    This makes the 3rd book about marriage that I've read in the past two weeks. The difference is this is a NON FICTION story. Elizabeth Alexander wrote a memoir about her marriage and the sudden death of her husband. I can't think of any other 'love-story-memoir', that has moved me more than this book!!!!!! NONE!!! THIS IS A GORGEOUS LOVE STORY!!!! To me.... If there is such a thing as a flawless - marriage- and I don't think it's possible - the marriage between Elizabeth Alexander and her husband This makes the 3rd book about marriage that I've read in the past two weeks. The difference is this is a NON FICTION story. Elizabeth Alexander wrote a memoir about her marriage and the sudden death of her husband. I can't think of any other 'love-story-memoir', that has moved me more than this book!!!!!! NONE!!! THIS IS A GORGEOUS LOVE STORY!!!! To me.... If there is such a thing as a flawless - marriage- and I don't think it's possible - the marriage between Elizabeth Alexander and her husband Ficre [pronounced FEE-kray], Ghebreyesus [don't ask me to pronounce Ficre's last name], is as close to a flawless marriage that anyone could dream to have. Before I attempt to share about the beauty & power this book is --I learned something in the first paragraph that was very useful and satisfying to me personal. Margitte: If you are reading this - YOU'll understand: About a month ago I wrote Margitte - asking if she might be able to explain something for me. I was deeply embarrassed- and am going to be more embarrassed now. I wasn't 100 percent clear between the difference of PLOT and STORY? In other words.... "what's the difference"? Many of you may laugh -but I was in tears even asking. I could still cry - facing all my limitations. The difference in terminology puzzled me. Of course I already beat myself up for being a dumb-ass! However, I UNDERSTAND the difference now -and it feels BETTER!!!! I'm thankful for the personal gift. Here goes: -- The excerpt-- First paragraph of her book: "The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact began earlier and is not a tragedy but rather a love story. Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss. Loss is felt in the absence of love. "The queen died and the king died" is a plot, wrote E.M. Forester in "The Art of the Novel", but "The queen died and then the king died of grief", is a story". CLEAR! More about this book: ......Ficre came from a very small state in Africa called Eritrea. There had been a three-decade war at the time with Ethiopia for independence. Almost every family lost a child during those long war years. Ficre's parents arranged to have him leave the country. At age 16 he was a refugee-- first in Sudan, then Italy, then Germany, and finally the United States. ......Elizabeth and Ficre first met in 1996 - in New Haven. He an artist - she a teacher......but expanding that: artist & teacher....they both had multiple talents. "In the years we were together - 16 years - I wrote four books of poems, two Books of essays, two edited collections. and countless essays and talks. I typed hundreds of young people African American and poetry, directed a poetry center, and chaired and African American studies department. Ficre made over 800 paintings, countless photographs and photo collages, and ran two restaurants. Of the plans that did not come through we wrote menus for other restaurants, plans for a downtown New Haven arts Center, a school for the arts in Eritrea, A bed and breakfast on the Hudson River, A play based on the life on the magician Black Herman. Each of us need it possible for the other. We got something done. Each believe in the other unsurprisingly." "In all marriages there is a struggle and ours was no different in that regard. We came to the other shore, dusted off, and said, There you are, my love". ....... In their 16 years together- 15 years of marriage -- Elizabeth and Ficre did a few other things together: They cherished their private time - they raised two boys together, took three trips to Italy, had 15 Christmases together, planned 15 Thanksgiving dinners, 15 Easter dinners, and one Feast of the Seven Fishes. They visited friends and in laws in London, Scotland, Spain, Oakland ( the diaspora of their family). ........Ficre spoke 7 languages fluently-- and knew several other fairly well. ........In their extended family, and family and friends, ....they had: two cancers, two heart surgeries, one drug addiction, two mental hospitalizations, marriages, babies, and funerals. They lived in three houses, in two cities, one job change, two close to businesses, when it started business...... many came in many went. One war ended, another one started. An East African American US president. Together they chose daycare's, nannies, nursery schools, two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. ......Ficre was a gardener - loved books - and a great chef. There are a few recipes the book. His "Spicy Red Lentil & Tomato Curry sounds delicious. I'm going to make it. What I haven't shared is hardest to share -( must be felt first hand), is the depth of this couple's complete love for each other. 'From' their love --it's clear they made an extraordinary difference to others. Their love sprinkled everywhere ....with their kids, extended family and friends, their art, writing, cooking, and in their jobs. They were role models in 'celebrating life and people'. It showed up in everything they did! I haven't shared 'THE STORY' Elizabeth Alexander does it brilliantly!!!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!! [ a book I want to give my daughters]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    “I’m grateful for the tug of the day that gets us out of bed and propels us into our lives and responsibilities; memory can be a weight on that. And yet, in it floods, brought willfully, or brought on by a glimpse, a glance, a scent, a sound.”- Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World This was a sensitive and very touching look into Elizabeth Alexander’s life, losing her beloved husband, Ficre Ghebreyesus, very suddenly at a relatively young age. Recently I read Roland Barthes’ beautiful “Mo “I’m grateful for the tug of the day that gets us out of bed and propels us into our lives and responsibilities; memory can be a weight on that. And yet, in it floods, brought willfully, or brought on by a glimpse, a glance, a scent, a sound.”- Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World This was a sensitive and very touching look into Elizabeth Alexander’s life, losing her beloved husband, Ficre Ghebreyesus, very suddenly at a relatively young age. Recently I read Roland Barthes’ beautiful “Mourning Diary” about the death of his mother; “The Light of the World” seemed to be a more in-depth look at the mourning process in our age, taking into account additional things like culture, diversity, and migration. “Mourning Diary” was written by a philosopher/linguist, this memoir by an artist about an artist. It shows by the vibrancy in the words despite the loss, and the sense of loss experienced. This book had so much love in it. Love between family, friends, parents and children, but most of all the love Elizabeth had with Ficre. This was such a wonderful testament to their life together, short but so full and abundant. I think it was a testament to them as parents that they recognized their different histories and went about selecting and harmonizing aspects of their cultures to share with their children and those around them: “That was the interesting idea of us: East and West Africa married, descendants of slaves who survived, descendants of free people of colour, descendants of freedom fighters never enslaved, the strongest of all to be conjoined in our children.” This book seemed to be almost an amalgamation of the things I’ve thought about in the past few months. Dealing with recent loss in my own family, meditating on this loss, thinking about diasporic experiences, memories, grief… When someone dies, the art, poetry, music, and plays that they loved are left behind and how we see them change. I think about death in this new age, the age of text messaging, digital photography. What do we leave behind and in what forms/mediums? I think about the importance of food and drink as cultural and also as comfort. I think about my own cultural and migratory history and how my body carries all that within it. This book was a very moving testament to an obviously very special and beloved man. Despite the tragic loss of Ficre, I see this as a very hopeful book. I’d recommend it to anyone. “What a profound mystery it is to me, the vibrancy of presence, the realness of it, and then, gone.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Elizabeth Alexander met Ficre Ghebreyesus in New York City. He of the shaved head, the amazing recipes (he was a chef as well as an artist), they fell in love quickly and stayed in love and involved throughout their marriage. It appears to have been a marriage of spirits, souls, bodies and minds. Alexander, called Lizzie by her husband, was born and raised in the United States, a writer, a poet, a teacher. Ficre was from Eritrea; he was sent away by his family so he would not be fodder for a war Elizabeth Alexander met Ficre Ghebreyesus in New York City. He of the shaved head, the amazing recipes (he was a chef as well as an artist), they fell in love quickly and stayed in love and involved throughout their marriage. It appears to have been a marriage of spirits, souls, bodies and minds. Alexander, called Lizzie by her husband, was born and raised in the United States, a writer, a poet, a teacher. Ficre was from Eritrea; he was sent away by his family so he would not be fodder for a war and became a part of his large family's world-wide diaspora. This is a story of a love, of loss, of longing, laughter, tears, dancing, family near and far, art, music, terrible grief, memories, Africa, friends, a garden, food, children. It is the story of an incomplete life, told by the half left behind. Ficre died of a massive heart attack shortly after his 50th birthday, without warning, leaving his Lizzie and two teenage sons. It is difficult to describe how special this book is. Alexander is a poet and her mastery of the language shines, allowing us to see the depths of emotions in her words. But beyond the mastery of the words is her ability to evoke so many emotions, the conflicting emotions that come when one loses someone they love. Somehow she is able to let us in--just far enough to get glimpses of this man she loved, the father of her sons. Ficre did not paint what he saw. He saw in his mind, and then he painted, and then he found the flowers that were what he painted. He painted what he wanted to continue to see. He painted how he wanted the world to look. He painted to fix something in place. And so I write to fix him in place, to pass time in his company, to make sure I remember, even though I know I will never forget. (loc 1230) And by by writing she has shared her memories and Ficre with those of us who never met him. She has given us recipes, favorite selections of music and books. I plan to check out some of that music very soon. Very highly recommended A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I'm not a big personal memoir reader, generally I end up, thinking of them as pity memoirs but this book proves me wrong. When Ficre, Elizabeth's husband dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, Elizabeth must find a way to come to terms with her heart ache and grief. This is a beautiful testament to love, friendship, fatherhood, beginnings and endings, what a wonderful testament to a love that will never be forgotten even as her and her son's lives must go on. ARC from publisher. I'm not a big personal memoir reader, generally I end up, thinking of them as pity memoirs but this book proves me wrong. When Ficre, Elizabeth's husband dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, Elizabeth must find a way to come to terms with her heart ache and grief. This is a beautiful testament to love, friendship, fatherhood, beginnings and endings, what a wonderful testament to a love that will never be forgotten even as her and her son's lives must go on. ARC from publisher.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    My nonfiction book of the year. I read a lot of memoirs about illness and death, perhaps because I feel they get me closer to the heart of what matters in life. Especially after my sister lost her husband earlier this year, I have been returning to bereavement memoirs as I think about books that might be therapeutic for her. If you enjoyed Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, this is a great follow-up. It joins Heaven’s Coast by Mark Doty, The Iceberg by Marion Coutts, and To Trave My nonfiction book of the year. I read a lot of memoirs about illness and death, perhaps because I feel they get me closer to the heart of what matters in life. Especially after my sister lost her husband earlier this year, I have been returning to bereavement memoirs as I think about books that might be therapeutic for her. If you enjoyed Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, this is a great follow-up. It joins Heaven’s Coast by Mark Doty, The Iceberg by Marion Coutts, and To Travel Hopefully by Christopher Rush on my short list of favorite reflections on the loss of a partner. You might remember Alexander from the 2009 Obama inauguration, for which she wrote and recited the poem “Praise Song for the Day.” I hadn’t heard of her, but the subject matter of this memoir appealed to me. Why read about the sudden death of her husband Ficre in a cardiac event at age 50? There’s a simple reason: this is a gorgeous book, written with incredible warmth and candor; it is full of both remembering and imagining. Alexander met her husband, Ficre Ghebreyesus, an Eritrean chef and painter, in New York City. They had a whirlwind courtship and were expecting their first son when they married. Life took them to Connecticut, where Alexander still teaches at Yale. Ficre referred to himself as a “conscious synchretizer” of different identities and cultures: African, but with European influences – he spoke Italian and had family there; African-American, but with wry detachment from his wife’s “Negro” roots. The astonishing fact was that English was his fourth language, but the one in which he conducted daily life. They had lived in their cozy New Haven home, where Ficre cooked Italian-inspired feasts and had his morning cigarette and coffee out in the backyard he lovingly tended, for two years when he died of a massive heart attack. It was just a matter of days after his fiftieth birthday; he had been running on the treadmill in the basement. Their younger son found him, and in the time between Alexander calling an ambulance and paramedics arriving she saw Ficre’s soul leaving. Never mind that doctors said he was dead before he ever hit the ground. This book is the most wonderful love letter you could imagine, and no less beautiful for its bittersweet nature. Through Alexander’s language I felt I knew Ficre and I, too, mourned his loss. “He who believed in the lottery...He who never met a child he didn’t enchant. He who loved to wear the color pink” “he himself was a profoundly peaceful and peace-loving person, forged in the crucible of war” “He understood that ars longa, vita brevis, no matter when you die.” There is Ficre, but there is also Lizzie, the grieving widow. The book is to celebrate the one who is gone, but also to chronicle how the one who remains goes on. “I write to fix him in place, to pass time in his company, to make sure I remember, even though I know I will never forget.” “I look across at his side of the bed as I wake with my mind racing with quandaries and I think, I miss my friend, plain and simple.” “What a profound mystery it is to me, the vibrancy of presence, the realness of it, and then, gone. Ficre not at the kitchen table seems impossible.” In short vignettes, beginning afresh with every chapter, Alexander conjures up the life she lived with and after Ficre. She circles back to his last days again and again, looking for the signs that would have told her what was coming. In tears and in dreams, she still feels her husband’s presence, yet “what is left of Ficre has a different form now. It is less sharp, more permeating, more essence, more distilled. It is less his body here, his body there, and more, he is the ground beneath us and the air we breathe.” If you were wondering what the title means, it’s not Jesus who is the light of the world here; it’s beauty, as in the Derek Walcott line used as an epigraph. Although they married in a Greek Orthodox church, the closest thing they could find to Ficre’s Coptic tradition, Alexander is only a nominal Christian. You might say that beauty was their true religion; words, food and art formed their shared rituals. There are even recipes here: for Ficre’s famous shrimp barka and spicy red lentils; for a friend’s comforting spaghetti with onions. This is my favorite nonfiction of the year so far. Whether you’ve suffered the recent death of a loved one or not, there is a memento mori message here for everyone. As Alexander quotes from the Bill T. Jones dance Last Night on Earth, “Are you doing what you want to do right? Have you located your passion as if this was your last night on earth?”

  6. 5 out of 5

    ij

    This is a beautifully memoir, written by Elizabeth Alexander. Alexander (Lizzy) is a poet and is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of African American Studies, at Yale University. The memoir is a love story about Lizzy’s time spent with her husband Ficre Ghebreyesus and the subsequent months after his death. Ficre an immigrant from Eritrea was a painter and restaurant chef/ owner). The memoir provides an intimate view of their courtship and marriage. We see their parents, family, friends, coworker This is a beautifully memoir, written by Elizabeth Alexander. Alexander (Lizzy) is a poet and is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of African American Studies, at Yale University. The memoir is a love story about Lizzy’s time spent with her husband Ficre Ghebreyesus and the subsequent months after his death. Ficre an immigrant from Eritrea was a painter and restaurant chef/ owner). The memoir provides an intimate view of their courtship and marriage. We see their parents, family, friends, coworkers, etc. They are portrayed as loving each other and those around them. Lizzy shares not only the occasions, but the recipes, poems, art, etc., in their lives. Ficre died at age fifty (50), of a heart attack. His death was shock to Lizzy and their two sons. Family and friends help to soften this unexpected event. I recommend this memoir to lovers of spouses, family, poetry, art, and food.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    It is said the way to deal with loss is to remember. Alexander chooses the most gorgeous memories in her elegy for her husband Ficre, like a bowl of blowsy, fragrant roses or a rarely-blooming South African bonsai covered in pink blossoms that exude a sweet perfume. The unusual capacity of both artists to see beauty and possibility in the world gave them loving friends that each of them gathered about themselves and cherished for one another. They lived a life of such richness and beauty that th It is said the way to deal with loss is to remember. Alexander chooses the most gorgeous memories in her elegy for her husband Ficre, like a bowl of blowsy, fragrant roses or a rarely-blooming South African bonsai covered in pink blossoms that exude a sweet perfume. The unusual capacity of both artists to see beauty and possibility in the world gave them loving friends that each of them gathered about themselves and cherished for one another. They lived a life of such richness and beauty that they cannot now be sad it had to end. That it was a privilege, both of them would acknowledge. Ficre Ghebreyesus was only days past his fiftieth birthday when he died of a massive heart attack one evening on his treadmill while he waited for his wife and the mother of his two sons to return from a poetry reading. The memories of their meeting, the births of their sons, their life together--he as a chef and painter, she as a teacher and poet--is as wonderful as anything I have ever read, and as mysterious in alchemy as any chemistry. Gorgeous.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Have I been reading for 67 years just to get to this perfect book? Can it be possible that a poet who professes no religion can write something so sacramental? Will I hold this as close to my heart as a personal blessing? And may I please give this a thousand thousand stars, as it has illuminated my spirit to such a degree?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joshunda Sanders

    It is easy to want in a love story only light and beauty, but what Elizabeth Alexander achieves with her memoir is a deep, graceful and concise reminder that with great love comes an inevitably great loss. It is not all dark, nor is it easy or convenient, but even grief contains beauty. And it is a natural response to loving someone tenderly to feel such darkness and pain when they have physically died. The Light of the World is heartbreaking in a way that is also evocative; intimate, raw and lo It is easy to want in a love story only light and beauty, but what Elizabeth Alexander achieves with her memoir is a deep, graceful and concise reminder that with great love comes an inevitably great loss. It is not all dark, nor is it easy or convenient, but even grief contains beauty. And it is a natural response to loving someone tenderly to feel such darkness and pain when they have physically died. The Light of the World is heartbreaking in a way that is also evocative; intimate, raw and lovely.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Robert Blumenthal

    Elizabeth Alexander is the wonderful African American poet who read one of her poems at the Inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009. Three years later, her beloved husband Ficre died suddenly from a heart attack. This book is a recounting of their life together and how she and her two sons coped with the tragedy and loss. This memoir is brief and very, very poetic. It is heartfelt and very wise and was uplifting and achingly moving at various times. In addition, the reader really gets to know the c Elizabeth Alexander is the wonderful African American poet who read one of her poems at the Inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009. Three years later, her beloved husband Ficre died suddenly from a heart attack. This book is a recounting of their life together and how she and her two sons coped with the tragedy and loss. This memoir is brief and very, very poetic. It is heartfelt and very wise and was uplifting and achingly moving at various times. In addition, the reader really gets to know the characters and their relationships. She especially brings to life her former husband, who was a chef, a painter, an activist, and a loving husband and father. It is not an engrossing memoir, as The Glass Wall by Jennifer Walls, but it is so beautifully written and expressive that it is a pleasure in which to immerse oneself. Years ago I read the memoir by Joan Didion after the death of her beloved husband and found myself somewhat uninvolved and disappointed. I simply found it distant, and it did not emotionally move me anywhere as much as I thought it would. The Light of the World, on the other hand, grabbed me emotionally from page one. I could really feel the author's grief and her redemption from it. And after a beautiful poetic journey, the end is resplendent and emotionally rich.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Allison Shifman Chartier

    Alexander's love for her husband was so deep and she expressed it so beautifully. That said, at points I found the book uncomfortably intimate - like I was reading someone's disconnected journal entries. The book read like a series of missives and not like a unified narration. This bothered me. I was also put off by how perfect she and Ficre's lives were before his death. It left me feeling like it wasn't truthful, like something was missing from the picture, but then feeling awful and guilt rid Alexander's love for her husband was so deep and she expressed it so beautifully. That said, at points I found the book uncomfortably intimate - like I was reading someone's disconnected journal entries. The book read like a series of missives and not like a unified narration. This bothered me. I was also put off by how perfect she and Ficre's lives were before his death. It left me feeling like it wasn't truthful, like something was missing from the picture, but then feeling awful and guilt ridden for questioning it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Conor Ahern

    This heartbreaking memoir of finding and then losing a soulmate was achingly beautiful.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    3.5 stars

  14. 5 out of 5

    Deyanne

    This is a profoundly moving elegy to a remarkable man shared by his gifted, sensitive wife (and esteemed poet). Immediately after finishing this gem, I wrote my thoughts on a legal pad. When I find that, I will complete my review. In the meantime, I want to remember a few seminal passages: His full name, Ficremariam Ghebreyesus, means "lover of Mary" and "servant of Jesus." The abbreviated "Ficre", as he was called, means "love." p. 8 But his relationship to language also said everything about h This is a profoundly moving elegy to a remarkable man shared by his gifted, sensitive wife (and esteemed poet). Immediately after finishing this gem, I wrote my thoughts on a legal pad. When I find that, I will complete my review. In the meantime, I want to remember a few seminal passages: His full name, Ficremariam Ghebreyesus, means "lover of Mary" and "servant of Jesus." The abbreviated "Ficre", as he was called, means "love." p. 8 But his relationship to language also said everything about his respect for others, his sense of all of us as connected global citizens, and his constant curiosity to learn and than amalgamate different ways of thinking and being in the world. p.20 Now I know for sure the soul is an evanescent thing and the body is its temporary container, because I saw it. I saw the body with the soul leaving, and I saw the body with the soul gone. p.42 In all marriages there is a struggle and ours was no different in that regard. But we always came to the same shore, dusted off, and said, There you are, my love. p.76 Ficre did not paint what he saw. He saw in his mind, and then he painted, and then he found the flowers that were what he painted. He painted what he wanted to continue to see. He painted how he wanted the world to look. He painted to fix something in place. And so I write to fix him in place, to pass time in his company, to make sure I remember, even though I know I will never forget. p.147 He found his life's work thrice: as an activist as a chef; and as a painter. He understood himself as something larger than himself: His mighty, extended family of origin; his beloved native land and its people. He found love and became part of a new extended family, and a new people. He had children and made family, most important of all to him. p.196 This book is a treasure that I will be rereading and gifting to dear friends . I feel privileged that I was allowed to share this intimate portrayal of an eternal love story and the soul if you will of a deeply loved husband, father, son and friend. It rests on my favorite shelf.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shari McCullough

    I am sooo grateful to have seen Elizabeth Alexander interviewed on the Morning Joe program last week. If I had not heard of this book I would have been robbed of a sublime gift. Her book is a must read for anyone who has ever experienced a profound love. And also a profound loss. I admit that I did sob tears of grief at times. But the story of her husband, and their sons, and their love was uplifting. And the awareness of beauty in so many aspects of life is inspiring. I think I am a great appre I am sooo grateful to have seen Elizabeth Alexander interviewed on the Morning Joe program last week. If I had not heard of this book I would have been robbed of a sublime gift. Her book is a must read for anyone who has ever experienced a profound love. And also a profound loss. I admit that I did sob tears of grief at times. But the story of her husband, and their sons, and their love was uplifting. And the awareness of beauty in so many aspects of life is inspiring. I think I am a great appreciator, but the visceral joie de vivre that Alexander exudes is contagious. It had me weeping tears of gratitude. And her writing is sheer poetry (of course, she is a poet)... and yet as real as real gets.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Brody

    It is not often that I read a book as beautiful and powerful as 'The Light of the World'. Written by the poet Elizabeth Alexander, it is an homage to her beloved husband Ficre who died suddenly at the age of 50. Theirs was a strong love, recognized at first sight and forged through a shared love of art, food, language, and family. Ficre is an Eritrean who has lived a life of suffering and change, his resilience the shining light that has seen him through wartime and his plight as a refugee. He tr It is not often that I read a book as beautiful and powerful as 'The Light of the World'. Written by the poet Elizabeth Alexander, it is an homage to her beloved husband Ficre who died suddenly at the age of 50. Theirs was a strong love, recognized at first sight and forged through a shared love of art, food, language, and family. Ficre is an Eritrean who has lived a life of suffering and change, his resilience the shining light that has seen him through wartime and his plight as a refugee. He travels to several countries before finding himself in New York City where he runs a restaurant with his brother while also doing his artwork. He is fluent in several languages and reflects the cultures around him through his artwork - painting, printmaking, photography. He meets Elizabeth, a poet, and they meld their backgrounds together, creating a family filled with singing, love, food and friends. Ficre touches the lives of many through the food he lovingly prepares and the artwork he creates. He loves to wear bright colors which seem to show off his strength and brightness, a reflection of the sun that shines within him. When he dies suddenly, while on a treadmill, Elizabeth's loss and profound grief are intolerable. She keens to the skies, she cries every day for months, she does not leave her home except to teach her beloved students in the African American Studies Department at Yale. In this memoir, Elizabeth's grief is palpable but so is the joy and love she experiences in her marriage to Ficre, a devoted and stalwart man. The book pays him homage in a magnificent way, creating from words the picture of a man I wish I had had the privilege to meet. "I loved my friend. He went away from me. There's nothing more to say."

  17. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    “She wrote that travellers should always commit the “charming, hopeful, irrational” act of buying a lottery ticket in new countries. She called it “buy[ing] a chance.” It will make you feel lucky, as if anything could happen, even when “you know you will not be there for the drawing.” I am a huge fan of memoirs, I love reading about people’s personal experiences. I usually read memoirs to see what the person had to go through and how they went through it. Words fail to describe how beautiful and he “She wrote that travellers should always commit the “charming, hopeful, irrational” act of buying a lottery ticket in new countries. She called it “buy[ing] a chance.” It will make you feel lucky, as if anything could happen, even when “you know you will not be there for the drawing.” I am a huge fan of memoirs, I love reading about people’s personal experiences. I usually read memoirs to see what the person had to go through and how they went through it. Words fail to describe how beautiful and heartwarming Alexander’s memoir of her late husband is. The book read like poetry, it flowed, it engulfed you at times, it had you laughing, you were taught something new, this book was pure magic. I loved that even though the book was about Firce, there were moments dedicated to the reader eg, the various recipes, and the teaching moments on a topic or quotes from other artists. I could feel Alexander’s love for her husband oozing through the pages of this book. Usually I would think “ok, where is the dirt? This guy could not have been that amazing” but Alexander really stayed on point and portrayed her husband in the best light, a light to me that is totally believable. I’ve hardly read a memoir and felt the urge to meet the person, after finishing this book I truly felt the loss of Ficre. What a man, he really seemed large than life, the book did him justice (even though I haven’t met him). I wish at the end of my life I would have someone write this beautifully and truthfully about me… Truly an amazing, beautiful and heart-warming book…

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    Elizabeth Alexander's "The light of the world" is by far, one of the most engaging and fetching books I have ever read, also heavy loaded with a diversity of powerful emotions, and at the same time a meaningful, truthful and honest memoir !!! "The light of the world" deals with loss, how to cope with, and the pain it involves!!! Elizabeth Alexander's narration is anoint and dropping, even saturated and also I will say clothed with a pregnancy which will give light to the beautiful scent of poetic Elizabeth Alexander's "The light of the world" is by far, one of the most engaging and fetching books I have ever read, also heavy loaded with a diversity of powerful emotions, and at the same time a meaningful, truthful and honest memoir !!! "The light of the world" deals with loss, how to cope with, and the pain it involves!!! Elizabeth Alexander's narration is anoint and dropping, even saturated and also I will say clothed with a pregnancy which will give light to the beautiful scent of poetic and even magic prose, that will surely sweep you away in another reality... The story is a simple love story between a Jung refugee man from Africa and an Afro-American girl.... They meet each other, and it becomes the love of her life!!! Eventually they married and are blessed with two children. But then unexpected, Ficri (so is his name) at the age of fifty drops dead by an cardiac attack... In his sensitive narration, Elizabeth Alexander has attain and achieve to create a unique atmosphere with vivid pictures scattered throughout it!!! I won't disclose to many details for you; because this is certainly a must-read book for everyone who loves good written and poetic fiction.... But hark!!! its a true story.... And yes, this book will stay with me for a long time.... Recommendation to all my goodreads friends, and of course five stars!!! Dean:)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lucille Zimmerman

    This may be the most beautiful book I've ever read. I didn't read it, quite, I listened on audio. Imagine what you'd get if you crossed two artistic people later in life. Ficre, an Eritrean chef and artist who'd survived civil war in Africa, and Elizabeth, an acclaimed poet and Yale professor. Now mix in all the colors, trips, flavors, wildlife, stories, friendships, they experienced when their two paths crossed later in life. Imagine it erudite, imagine it simple. Imagine quotidian life. Imagin This may be the most beautiful book I've ever read. I didn't read it, quite, I listened on audio. Imagine what you'd get if you crossed two artistic people later in life. Ficre, an Eritrean chef and artist who'd survived civil war in Africa, and Elizabeth, an acclaimed poet and Yale professor. Now mix in all the colors, trips, flavors, wildlife, stories, friendships, they experienced when their two paths crossed later in life. Imagine it erudite, imagine it simple. Imagine quotidian life. Imagine aethestic delight. Then imagine a lover and loved one dies unexpectedly. This is a stunning memoir told by the poet-wife left behind. It feels intimate and holy. It will make you grab on to the ones you love, offer a toast, and feast on life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ginger

    Oh this was beautiful. It will make you appreciate love. And life. And beauty. Even though the topic is sad, it effuses joy. The author is a poet, which is obvious in the gorgeous language. I wanted to be their friends. Her husband was from a small war-torn country in East Africa, so there were small echoes of the African-American experience throughout. Both were artists (his paintings are on the cover). Their community sounds like a sparkling, colorful family filled with food and art and poetry. Oh this was beautiful. It will make you appreciate love. And life. And beauty. Even though the topic is sad, it effuses joy. The author is a poet, which is obvious in the gorgeous language. I wanted to be their friends. Her husband was from a small war-torn country in East Africa, so there were small echoes of the African-American experience throughout. Both were artists (his paintings are on the cover). Their community sounds like a sparkling, colorful family filled with food and art and poetry. I loved a line where a friend comes over for dinner and exclaimed, "Your life is just like a foreign film!" Read-alike: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (marriage and academia)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    This memoir emotes love and joy for the years that Elizabeth was married. It reflects her husband in every aspect of his own self-identity and what roles he played. She's like a prism that reflects him outward. The reader knows him. And amidst grief and longing for him still, and despite it- her joy at being his wife and their times together predominate it all. Loving and eloquent tribute as only a poetic core with a positive self-identity and purpose can produce. This memoir emotes love and joy for the years that Elizabeth was married. It reflects her husband in every aspect of his own self-identity and what roles he played. She's like a prism that reflects him outward. The reader knows him. And amidst grief and longing for him still, and despite it- her joy at being his wife and their times together predominate it all. Loving and eloquent tribute as only a poetic core with a positive self-identity and purpose can produce.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This memoir reminded me of Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking. A sudden loss felt so powerfully. I haven't read Magical Thinking in a while (and want to re-read) but appreciated how Alexander described so poetically the companionship felt between husband and wife. What a gift for her sons to read such loving words. And instructive for all on the practice of living each day with gratitude and presence. This memoir reminded me of Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking. A sudden loss felt so powerfully. I haven't read Magical Thinking in a while (and want to re-read) but appreciated how Alexander described so poetically the companionship felt between husband and wife. What a gift for her sons to read such loving words. And instructive for all on the practice of living each day with gratitude and presence.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Les

    Transportive and exquisite, as is often the case when great poets express themselves through prose. I picked up this book thinking it was a tragic love story, but it was just a beautiful one. This book made me cry and want to write. Alexander brought her husband back to life, as I imagine she does every day. This is not a requiem; it is an ode of a beloved and high order.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Every once in a great while I read a book that realigns my life- this is one of those books. Alexander's prose and insights are deep and hopeful. A true love story. She reads the audio- probably my favorite audible ever. Every once in a great while I read a book that realigns my life- this is one of those books. Alexander's prose and insights are deep and hopeful. A true love story. She reads the audio- probably my favorite audible ever.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    This memoir of deep love and early loss reminded me of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. (Personal note: I realized that the author's brother was my TA (teaching assistant) in law school.) This memoir of deep love and early loss reminded me of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. (Personal note: I realized that the author's brother was my TA (teaching assistant) in law school.)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    A beautiful, full-hearted memoir about love and loss and art and lots of other things that matter by one of my favorite poets. Elizabeth Alexander, an accomplished poet who composed and delivered the inaugural poem for President Obama's 2009 inauguration, tells a profound story of love and loss, death and rebirth, in this amazing, small book. Her husband, an Eritrean immigrant/scholar/chef/painter/multilinguist of a multitude of talents and facets died suddenly, leaving Alexander and their small A beautiful, full-hearted memoir about love and loss and art and lots of other things that matter by one of my favorite poets. Elizabeth Alexander, an accomplished poet who composed and delivered the inaugural poem for President Obama's 2009 inauguration, tells a profound story of love and loss, death and rebirth, in this amazing, small book. Her husband, an Eritrean immigrant/scholar/chef/painter/multilinguist of a multitude of talents and facets died suddenly, leaving Alexander and their small family to find meaning in profound loss. He seems to breathe from the pages and while you admire the strength of those he left behind, you wish you had known him or knew someone, anyone like him. Vivid and moving, this will stick with me for a long while.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ammara Abid

    The book was good, nicely written but I didn't connect with it emotionally. For me it's a memoir with all good memories having a perfect life & everything was going in a flow. But it shouldn't be after the death of Ficre (her husband) that's what I thought. I should wept at the death of her husband the man of her life, most perfect and ideal person but I didn't drop a single tear. It's not about my tears but those pages were written so calmly with very few sentiments. Might be her life was actua The book was good, nicely written but I didn't connect with it emotionally. For me it's a memoir with all good memories having a perfect life & everything was going in a flow. But it shouldn't be after the death of Ficre (her husband) that's what I thought. I should wept at the death of her husband the man of her life, most perfect and ideal person but I didn't drop a single tear. It's not about my tears but those pages were written so calmly with very few sentiments. Might be her life was actually like what she wrote but it didn't affect me much.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura Fairly

    The Light of the World is a poet's experience of her husband's unexpected death. While this book is full of grief, I found it to be more than anything a profound, raw celebration of life. It is an ode to a man, but Alexander also speaks to everything that is beautiful in each of our lives: the taste of coffee, the presence of flowers in our homes, what we make with our hands. This is a devastating, life-changing memoir. And I don't really even like memoirs. The Light of the World is a poet's experience of her husband's unexpected death. While this book is full of grief, I found it to be more than anything a profound, raw celebration of life. It is an ode to a man, but Alexander also speaks to everything that is beautiful in each of our lives: the taste of coffee, the presence of flowers in our homes, what we make with our hands. This is a devastating, life-changing memoir. And I don't really even like memoirs.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Riva Sciuto

    Elizabeth Alexander's 'The Light of the World' is arguably the most beautiful tribute to a human life I have ever encountered. Poetic and elegiac, her writing can heal hurting hearts. Stunningly, she memorializes her late husband Ficre, the light of her world, and in the process, makes us all feel enlightened for having known him through her. For his kindness. His compassion. His creativity. The beauty of "his eyes on the world." Unlike so many other self-absorbed memoirs, this one shines light Elizabeth Alexander's 'The Light of the World' is arguably the most beautiful tribute to a human life I have ever encountered. Poetic and elegiac, her writing can heal hurting hearts. Stunningly, she memorializes her late husband Ficre, the light of her world, and in the process, makes us all feel enlightened for having known him through her. For his kindness. His compassion. His creativity. The beauty of "his eyes on the world." Unlike so many other self-absorbed memoirs, this one shines light on the immeasurable impact of a single human life in a way that evokes gratitude in addition to sorrow. Some of my favorite passages below: "The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact began earlier and is not a tragedy but rather a love story. Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss. Loss is not felt in the absence of love." "I wail like an animal and then I sleep, and Ficre comes right to the edge of my dreams, no narrative, just presence, like a mother by her fevered child's sickbed. I think, I will keep mornings free for the rest of my life so I can go back to bed and hope to meet him there. He will take my hand and lead me somewhere. He is on the edge of sleep, and all I have to do is go there to be with him. I will go back to sleep each morning and meet him in the dream-space, and then I will be able to carry on with my day. Oh my darling where did you go? How powerfully I feel you are somewhere, but not here." "Where are you? You are part of this storm, this wind, this rain, these leaves. Plants will one day grow from your bones in the Grove Street Cemetery, my empty dirt bed next to you. Ficre everywhere, Ficre nowhere." "To love and live with a painter means marveling at the space between the things they see that you cannot see, that they then make. White canvas, blank walls, his vision. Today I see him where he is not." "Our romance was like that, healing every old wound with magic disappearing powers until they were all tended. We lived out of time, nursed all injuries, shared all the stories and then were fortified and ready to go on with our life together." "What a profound mystery it is to me, the vibrancy of presence, the realness of it, and then, gone." "Compassion, waving my arms in circles. Compassion, my capacious heart pumping. Ficre's great heart, a heart so big it exploded. He was not tired. He was not done." "There will always be children and there will always be old people. We spend most of our lives somewhere in between. ... The beginning, the end, and most of the time in the middle." "When we met those many years ago, I let everything happen to me, and it was beauty. Along the road, more beauty, and fear and struggle, and work, and learning, and joy. I could not have kept Ficre's death from happening, and from happening to us. It happened; it is part of who we are; it is our beauty and our terror. We must be gleaners from what life has set before us. If no feeling is final, there is more for me to feel." "He is somewhere in the atmosphere, but also not. He is fifty and I am fifty-one. He is smiling in the green backyard; now his garden does not grow tall, does not grow at all. He is a photograph in the living room; he is, for the moment, still." "That is what Ficre gave all of us, his eyes on the world. We stand inside of him and have the privilege of seeing out as he did ... They shared an unshakeable belief in beauty, in overflow, in everythingness, the bursting, indelible beauty in a world where there is so much suffering and wounding and pain." From the afterword: "He teaches us something about how to live our days in detail. Every day can have beauty and tenderness, at the simplest level of the meal and a flower in a garden. Every day can contain some small pleasure. Every act can have integrity, be courageous, and be guided by kindness. ... Our individual lights are small compared to all the light in the world. More light. More light." One of the most powerful memoirs on grief -- and the beauty and brevity of life -- that I have ever read. Everyone should read this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nakia

    “When we first met, we told each other about every single lover, every crush, every assignation, every heartbreak. When I told him about the one I loved most before him, who came after disastrous heartbreak, he says, ‘Bless him for loving you when you needed it, for healing you, and for preparing you for me.’ … Then we could begin something new.” The Light of the World is Elizabeth Alexander's beautifully written, but heart wrenching memoir about the life and love of her husband. Many books talk “When we first met, we told each other about every single lover, every crush, every assignation, every heartbreak. When I told him about the one I loved most before him, who came after disastrous heartbreak, he says, ‘Bless him for loving you when you needed it, for healing you, and for preparing you for me.’ … Then we could begin something new.” The Light of the World is Elizabeth Alexander's beautifully written, but heart wrenching memoir about the life and love of her husband. Many books talk about seeking love, finding love, relishing love, but how many delve into the pain of it being snatched away forever? Elizabeth Alexander found her soulmate in Ficre Gheybreyesus. They had two kids and lived a full artistic life, merging her Harlem and DC upbringing with his colorful mix of Eritrean culture with a sprinkle of Italian flavor. He was a painter and cook in New York, while she taught AfrAm studies and poetry at Yale and experienced many achievements including composing and reciting the poem “Praise Song for the Day” for Obama’s 2009 inauguration, During their 16th year together, Ficre passed away suddenly. This memoir is about their love and about her loss. How he swooped in and helped her and everyone else around him bloom, and the devastating effects of his unexpected death. It is a love letter, a eulogy, and a celebration of a profound love forced to transform through memory to survive past death. It is also Elizabeth working through and writing through the pain of grief and the uncomfortable beginnings of a new life without the man to which she’d given her entire heart. “He was a bottomless boat and the boat that would always hold me.” A bittersweet read; Kleenex required. More like 3.5 stars

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.