Saturday, April 29, 2017

Memoir as Self-Discovery

"Self- Discovery: The First Frontier" was just one of the mind-blowing panels at the 2017 LA Times Festival of Books (Conversation #1083).

"Being intersex was not an issue throughout my childhood at all," said Hida Viloria.  "The exclusion I felt was in being the only Latina at my school."

Nevertheless, she was relieved to check her private parts with a mirror at age 8 and discover "I was a girl after all" because she did not pee through her large clitoris.

Her memoir is titled Born Both: An Intersex Life.  Meeting her was very moving, and I hope Virginia Ramey Mollenkott will review her book for Christian Feminism Today's website,

"Being born as something that's not supposed to exist--that's difficult," she said.

Tash Aw described being an ethnically Chinese person raised in Malaysia in his memoir, The Face: Strangers on a Pier.  It was nominated for the new Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, which was won by Wesley Lowery for They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice.

"We were taught not to examine or interrogate anything that goes on inside," Aw said.  "For poor migrants, new life is dependent on scrubbing out everything that came before."

"My cousins work in factories and as bus drivers," he said, though he teaches at Columbia University.  "I think about them every day," he added.

Steph Jagger went on a ski trip around the world and skied "some 4 million vertical feet" in search of something more in her life.  Her memoir is Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery.

"I pushed away the models of mother, sisters, aunts," she said.  "I took a solo journey with the mountains."

Each of these speakers was enchanting to meet.

I bought Faces and Born Both, resisting Unbound, much as I would have liked to buy and read it.  Later.

avatar for Daniel Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez

Hernandez is a journalist, editor, correspondent, long-time blogger, and the author of "Down & Delirious in Mexico City," a beloved exploration of youth subcultures in contemporary Mexico. He is a former staff reporter at the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly. While living in Mexico City, he became editor of VICE Mexico and then chief of VICE News for Latin America. He is working on a second book of non-fiction, and recently joined a... Read More →

avatar for Tash Aw

Tash Aw

Aw is the prize-winning author of three novels, including, most recently, "Five Star Billionaire", as well as a memoir, "The Face: Strangers on a Pier.” His fiction has been translated into more than twenty languages, while his non-fiction appears in The New York Times, The London Review of Books, and The Guardian, among others. “The Face: Strangers on a Pier,” is a finalist for the 2016 L.A. Times' Christopher Isherwood Prize for... Read More →
avatar for Steph Jagger

Steph Jagger

Jagger splits her time between Southern California and British Columbia where she dreams big dreams, writes her heart out, and runs an executive & life coaching practice. She holds a CEC (certified Executive Coach) degree from Royal Roads University and she believes courageous living doesn't happen with one toe dangling in, but that we jump in, fully submerge, and sit in the juice. Think pickle, not cucumber. Her book is “Unbound: A... Read More →
avatar for Hida Viloria

Hida Viloria

Viloria is a writer and intersex activist, chairperson of the Organization Intersex International (OII), and founding director of its American affiliate the Intersex Campaign for Equality, also known as OII-USA. Hida's mission is to obtain equality for intersex and nonbinary people as part of a broader vision for a world that accepts and values difference of every kind. Her memoir "Born Both" was published in March.

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