- Listen to the interview
- Explore more about the book, The Good Braider.
- Learn more about the event on 7/11/13.
- Listen to the music of OD Bonny on SoundCloud.
- Listen to OD’s “Girl from Juba”:
When author Terry Farish was working at the Portland Public Library, she befriended a young man from the Sudan who told her “there is no word” when asked about his favorite family meal. “My mother will cook it for you,” he said. Terry Farish joined his family for a meal and from that day, began a journey of listening. Her new friends in Portland’s Sudanese community told of their tumultuous path from South Sudan to Portland, Maine.
The cultural exploration that started as “there is no word” became a braiding of stories, experiences, and words which culminated in the award-winning novel, The Good Braider.
The Good Braider will be celebrated at the Portland Public Library in Monument Square on Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 6:00 PM as part of city-wide read entitled “I’m Your Neighbor, Portland.” Bianca Abdalla, a local performer, will read aloud from The Good Braider, the author Terry Farish will talk about the development of the novel, and South Sudanese rapper OD Bonny will perform songs from his new CD, “Kwo I Lobo Tek.” The event will include a book signing and the sharing of East African refreshments from Asmara Restaurant. The event is free of charge. For more information, contact Curious City at 207-420-1126.
The free verse novel for teens and adults is told in the character’s Viola’s strikingly original first person voice. The narrative follows Viola’s dreams of South Sudan and her navigation of the strange world of America – a world where a girl can wear a short skirt, get a tattoo or even date a boy; a world that puts her into sharp conflict with her traditional mother who, like Viola, is struggling to braid together the strands of a displaced life.
“As I built relationships with new friends in Portland from Sudan,” Terry Farish said, “I explained to elders that I wanted to write a book about the teens as they made their homes in Maine. The elders very much wanted this story to be told and shared their experience and struggles with me. I approached the work as documentarian, spending a lot of time with families and learning how they spent their days, about their art, the work of their hands, the music they love, the stories they tell. However, I used this research method to create a novel. The Good Braider is fiction and based on research and dozens of stories I recorded.”
Sudanese American rapper and performer OD Bonny was given a copy of the book prepublication and recognized Viola’s journey in The Good Braider as he and brothers also fled South Sudan as young men. In response to his reading, OD Bonny wrote and recorded the song “Girl from Juba” and is currently producing a music video for the song and book with local filmmaker Fred Ben. OD Bonny performs in a mixture of English and his native Acholi. His new CD “Kwo I Lobo Tek” translates as “Life is Hard in This World.” “The song is about the struggle that we are facing in this world,” says OD Bonny, “and what we can do to solve some of those issues.”
We are delighted to announce that the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein has joined I’m Your Neighbor, Portland as a “Neighborhood Sponsor.” Because of their very generous donation, 160 YMCA and other young readers attending the Path of Stars event on 8/8/13 will receive a free signed copy of A Path of Stars and get to participate in a Cambodian arts activity!
Delighted that the Friends School of Portland joined I’m Your Neighbor, Portland as a “Street Sponsor” allowing for over 40 books in the I’m Your Neighbor, Portland Collection to be distributed free in the city.
With a mission to “nurture children’s unfolding development as curious, creative, and compassionate world citizens” we have found a wonderful partner in the Friends School of Portland.
One more day until the I’m Your Neighbor, Portland collection opens at the Portland Public Library’s Main Branch.
The bookcase is positioned and waiting thanks to “City of Readers” coordinator Jim Charette, the books have been ordered thanks to Children’s Librarian Mary Peverada, and the signage is installed thanks to Banacom Sign.
Thanks to the catalogers for working double time to get the books to the shelves!
Look for the bookcase between circulation and children’s after Memorial Day!
This quote from poet Amit Majmudar speaks to the mission of I’m Your Neighbor, Portland beautifully.
“Readers don’t want the differences to estrange them — for all their curiosity, they actually want the differences to disappear. They want to recognize themselves. This is all part of the larger paradox of fiction, where the characters must be specific enough to be anyone. In the end, the packaging may simply serve as an introduction. The true meeting takes place when the book opens, and a stranger reads about — and comprehends — a stranger.” —Amit Majmudar, a poet and diagnostic nuclear radiologist, is the author, most recently, of the novel “The Abundance.”
Quoted from a New York Times essay, “Am I An ‘Immigrant Writer’?”