Unsent Letters to my Mother. By Adriana Páramo. ISBN 978-0-915745-23-4. $22.95.
6" x 9" Black & White on Cream paper 250 pages
Unsent Letters to My Mother combines the skills of an anthropologist with the eye of a storyteller, making visible perspectives seldom explored in either literature or journalism: the expatriate woman in Kuwait, the woman as border-crosser, and the stories of struggle that rise above tragedy and travesty to highlight perseverance and hope. It is also a window into a hidden culture largely overlooked in the West, one in which slavery is alive and well, and back-street abortions, alcoholism, drug-smuggling, prostitution, domestic violence, and social inequality are as rampant as in any country of the Western hemisphere.
The book is also a powerful testament to the author’s journey, as a woman as well as an anthropologist. The women’s stories and the analyses of the culture are all interspersed with the author’s evocative epistolary accounts of her failing marriage, an extra-marital affair, and her humiliating departure, all set against the backdrop of a wealthy kingdom torn between Muslim traditions and Westernization. Páramo merges ethnography, memoir, research, quest, epistolary, and poetry, inventing the language to describe a sustained exploration of women’s lives in Kuwait.
“Seen through the eyes of Adriana Páramo, Kuwait rises up out of the desert as a complicated culture and country, layered with incredible beauty, prejudice, and misogyny. It is a place of joyful dancing, love and danger, a chimerical place where great wealth and poverty exist side by side, where Indian maids are horribly mistreated, and where a hidden love affair can blossom in clubs, forbidden parties, and nighttime forays into the desert. Páramo tells her story with emotional intensity, radiant insight, and witty humor. Her fierce spirit, tender passion, and resilient strength illuminate every page.” KAREN OSBORN, author of Between Earth and Sky
"Páramo's writing soars in this astounding book, offering a compelling and complex narrative--complete with layers of secrets and a love story--that also traces the global intersections of wealth, poverty, and race as they collide in Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion. The Colombian author treads into mortal danger amid privilege and patriarchy and the abject poverty of some South Asian workers. She fearlessly pursues the promise and limits of global sisterhood as she offers her heart and her mind through her roles as scientist, teacher, activist, anthropologist, lover, and spiritual seeker. This essential voice offers a fully realized memoir, one of the most accomplished and important works I have ever read." SONYA HUBER, author of Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System
“Adriana Páramo takes her readers on a wild ride through a world of wealth and arranged marriages, of boasting would-be mercenaries and insatiable friends, of defiant laughter and learning in a place where gender or class can be a death sentence. On the page, Páramo’s voice is lively and incisive. On the squash court, her gaze is plain lustful. At its core, this book is a love story in every sense of the word, a page-turner, infused with the irresistible warmth and wit of a huge Colombian heart.” ANA MARIA SPAGNA, author of Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going
“Beautifully written, rich in emotion and pathos, Páramo’s work artfully chronicles the disintegration of a climatically challenged marriage. But this is really two books. The first is a steamy Harlequin of desire, betrayal and regret; the second, a sober and unsettling meditation on Middle-Eastern gender rights. The two narratives complement each other; indeed, one feels like penance for the other. The narrator’s deep well of empathy for the human suffering that surrounds her ultimately redeems a story that might otherwise feel self-absorbed and trite.” DANIEL DeVISE, author of I Forgot to Remember; a Memoir of Amnesia
Adriana Páramo is a Colombian cultural anthropologist, writer, and women’s rights advocate. Her book My Mother’s Funeral, a CNF work set in Colombia was nominated for the 2014 Latino Books into Movies Award. She is also the author of Looking for Esperanza, winner of the Social Justice and Equity Award in Creative Nonfiction; Nautilus Silver Award in the conscious media category; Best Women’s Issues book at the International Latino Book Award; Best Social Studies book at the International Publishers’ Awards; Silver medal at the 2013 Book of the Year Award, BOYA. Looking for Esperanza was also listed as one of the top ten best books by Latino authors in 2012. .