What I’m Reading: Clemantine Wamariya

Clemantine Wamariya, co-author of The Girl Who Smiled Beads, tells us about three books that inspire her.

What I'm Reading: Clemantine Wamariya

In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine Wamariya tells her story of survival, adaptation, and defying expectations. In 1994, Wamariya and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries, searching for safety. Their arrival in the United States as refugees changed both their fates as their lives diverged. But years of being treated as less than human, of going hungry and seeing death, could not be erased.

Wamariya tells her story in a way that challenges conventional ideas about what it means to survive and struggle. She asks readers to look beyond the label of “victim” and to see the power of imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries; her story, and the way she tells it, invites us all to defy the stories others may tell about us and build lives of our own.

Wamariya told us about three books she finds meaningful and beautiful—books she’s delighted to recommend to others. Watch the video below to hear her explain why!

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CLEMANTINE WAMARIYA is a storyteller and human rights advocate. Born in Kigali, Rwanda, displaced by conflict, Clemantine migrated throughout seven African countries as a child. At age twelve, she was granted refugee status in the United States and went on to receive a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University. She lives in San Francisco.
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