Archive for the ‘Books’ Category


A Transformative Year of Delight and Discovery

January 9, 2008

From Simple Abundance, January 1st:

New Year’s Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery.

Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change. What are your hopes for the future as you reflect on the years that have passed? Gradually, as you become curator of your own contentment, you will learn to embrace the gentle yearnings of your heart. But this year, instead of resolutions, write down your most private aspirations. Those longings you have kept tucked away until the time seems right. Trust that now is the time. Ask the questions. The Simple Abundance path brings confidence that the answers will come and we will discover – day by day – how to live them.

Take a leap of faith, and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.

I hope this inspired you as much as it did me. May 2008 be a transformative year of delight and discovery for you.


Faith and Mercy

December 13, 2007

I want to share with you a beautifully written paragraph from my cousin’s book, Mercy. Brief background: Anna, the Italian journalist who witnesses all sorts of horrors in Africa, is struggling to understand how God could allow such immense suffering. The other character, Kez, is an Egyptian Muslim. Although Kez has his addictions, he is a man of faith.

When Anna slips a note under Kez’s hotel room door saying, “Predator, victim! Parasite, host! Canine distemper! Surely there could be finer mechanisms that these! Surely God can do better than this!” Kez replies:

“What do you know of the life of the neutron? What do you know of the circuitry of the brain? What can you tell me of the balance struck between electricity and magnetism? Which insights can you provide into the event horizon of a black hole? Tell me: what do you know of music of numbers, the clarity of water, the human eye? You know nothing. You sin through pride, my sweet friend. You sin through pride: the deepest, the darkest, the Original sin.”

He was far less castigatory in person. “Allah is great. You’re not. End of story.”

Mercy, by Lara Santoro is available in hardcover and paperback.


Mercy by Lara Santoro

August 31, 2007

My cousin’s book was mentioned on page 248 of the September issue of O magazine. I’m hoping that Oprah reads the book and has Lara on her show.

“Africa–anguished, impoverished, monstrously beautiful–takes the measure of every novelist daring enough to confront its mysteries. Lara Santoro’s Mercy (Other Press) swirls around a self-immolating Italian-born journalist named Anna, the two wildly attractive men she attracts and deflects, and her self-appointed housekeeper, a force of nature named Mercy. The urgent message of this gorgeously written novel, which deals head-on with the ravages of AIDS on a continent of grief: Open your eyes and look hard.”

I’ve written several posts about Lara’s book, all linking to Amazon so I should point out now that I receive no money in exchange for hits, clicks, what have you. I mention her book on my blog because I’m extremely proud of her and for no other reason.


Books, Glorious Books

July 28, 2007

I haven’t read a book in its entirety since, oh, let me think now… after my son was born nearly six years ago. There’s just no time to sit and read and by the time I go to bed, I can barely keep my eyes open. I’ve bought books with good intentions but they stay on my bookshelf or on my bedside table, gathering dust. I recently bought three books and have started all three at the same time. (ADD, much?) Here they are:

Lisey’s Story by Stephen King. I’m on page 50 or so but it’s turning out to be the sort of book that I can easily put down and not read obsessively. The story is slow for me. I’m hoping it picks up soon.

Total Control by David Baldacci. I picked this one up on a whim. See above.

Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Al Sanea. I love this one. I can’t put it down. I like the fact that it’s written by a young person. I can laugh at the parts that remind me of Kuwait, i.e. how guys follow girls around in their cars, trying to exchange numbers. So far, it’s my favorite. If there’s any hope of me actually finishing a book anytime soon, this is the one.

My mother left me two books in my room for me to read but I think I’ll snatch them up and read them back in Kuwait.

The Miracles of Santo Fico by Dennis L. Smith. My mother thinks I’ll like this one because it takes place in Tuscany, not too far off from where my relatives have a summer place.

Blue Diary – Alice Hoffman. I liked Practical Magic (nothing like the movie, although I liked the movie as well) so I have high hopes for this one.


Mercy by Lara Santoro

July 15, 2007

My cousin’s book Mercy is now available as pre-order on Amazon.

From my aunt (her mother):

    ANNA, AN ITALIAN-BORN JOURNALIST BASED IN KENYA, is drinking too much and missing her deadlines. One day, she is ambushed by a large, flamboyantly dressed African woman, Mercy, who talks herself into a job as Anna’s housemaid. Soon Mercy is organizing interviews for Anna in Nairobi’s worst slum and establishing much-needed order in the journalist’s disheveled life. While tension and misunderstanding punctuate Anna and Mercy’s developing relationship, the two women establish a genuine connection that will give each the courage to battle illness, injustice, and loss.

LARA SANTORO was born in Rome and educated in the US and France. A veteran journalist who has worked for the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek, Santoro has traveled extensively, covering wars, famines, and every major aspect of the AIDS epidemic. Mercy is her first novel. She divides her time between Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, and Boston, Massachusetts.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

Anna, the Italian-born, Nairobi-based war correspondent and narrator of veteran journalist Santoro’s affecting debut novel, is fast succumbing to the pain and riot of burned, bloodied Africa. Excessively drinking, keeping two lovers—one, a fellow journalist; the other, the owner of a coffee plantation—and delaying assignments while pleading with her editor for a bureau transfer, she seems hell-bent on self-annihilation when Mercy, a local giantess miraculously squeezed into a pink halter-top and fake patent-leather pants, persuades Anna to give her a job as house girl. Mercy becomes indispensable to Anna, pushing her to give up alcohol and meet her deadlines and introducing Anna to Father Anselmo, an Italian priest who lives in and administers to the AIDS-wracked slum of Korogocho. But it is only after Anna learns that Mercy has AIDS that the full measure of the women’s connection to and effect upon each other comes full circle. Santoro, who has covered the African AIDS epidemic, evokes the continent’s everyday horrors and uncommon moments of grace in decidedly unsentimental prose, and her depiction of international journalists’ lifestyles is similarly powerful. Though the subtleties that make the first half of the book sublime become heavy-handed later on, the characters and their complicated relationships remain stirring until the end.


My Cousin’s Book

January 5, 2007

Here’s more information about Lara’s book.

MERCY by Lara Santoro. Other Press (ed. Rosemary Ahern)

Anna, a troubled war correspondent with a history of addiction and infidelity, is living in Nairobi, reporting on the political turmoil that abounds throughout the country, and the continent. To escape the atrocities of day-to-day life in Africa, and her own demons, she turns to alcohol. Anna is caught in a love triangle between Myles, another war correspondent whose dangerous lifestyle means he cannot be counted upon for stability, and Nick, a wealthy coffee farmer who adores Anna but lacks the seriousness of Myles. Soon, she hires Mercy as her maid—a larger-than-life figure with a disreputable past. Initially suspicious and contemptuous of one another, the two women develop a bond that transforms their lives. Through her relationship with Mercy, Anna is able to fully understand and comprehend the injustices that surround her—poverty and disease are everywhere. While at first she is able to keep the horror of the AIDS crisis at arms reach, it is not long before it hits far too close to home: Mercy admits that she is infected with HIV. Despite Anna’s determination to “extract one living body from this orgy of death,” Mercy dies of AIDS. In the end, Anna, and the reader, are left with the sad realization of life’s inequalities—and the frustrating, and somewhat hopeful, understanding that change is almost within reach.

Santoro was born in Rome, Italy, and worked as a foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek Magazine, covering mostly conflict. MERCY is her first novel. Translation & UK: EMLA (Markson)


Mercy by Lara Santoro

December 19, 2006

Although it won’t be published until September 2007, I’ll start some buzz on my cousin’s book Mercy. Don’t quote me, but I believe it’s about a troubled white woman who moves to Africa and through her maid learns about compassion and spirituality. The maid gets AIDS but getting medicine for AIDS is hard to impossible in impoverished Africa so the story gets into the maid’s painful journey with the disease.

Mercy, by Lara Santoro. Look for it online and in bookstores next September.