Thursday, September 24, 2015
Book Review: The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
Author: Elizabeth Alexander
Enjoyment Rating: *****
Content Alert: This book digs deeply into grief and loss
Poet and Yale professor Elizabeth Alexander expected April 4, 2012 to be a regular evening, juggling work and child care of her two boys, Solomon and Simon, with her husband, Ficre. Then, the bottom dropped out of their lives when Ficre, so healthy and full of life, suddenly died of a heart attack while exercising on the treadmill. The Light of the World is an elegy in prose, in which Alexander shows how Ficre, an Ethiopian painter and chef, brought color and spice to her life, and how she and her boys mourned and lived in the time just after his death.
I listened to The Light of the World in less than a day, and I would have listened to Alexander talk about Ficre and her love for him for ten times as long if she had written more. This isn't a whitewashed love story-- she's open and honest and raw about the imperfections of their life together, but that doesn't diminish the story-- it endeared me to them. I loved the inside view Alexander gave us into her life-- it takes a brave author to be willing to expose the private aspects of life, especially and love and grief and raising teenagers, and Alexander shows herself both wise and brave in The Light of the World.