Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography
When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunion her father promised her, war breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking and hiding for three weeks until they arrive in the village of Lai. Finally, a rebel soldier smuggles them across the border to Sierra Leone, reuniting the family and setting them off on yet another journey, this time to the United States.
Spanning this harrowing journey in Moore’s early childhood, her years adjusting to life in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to Liberia, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply moving story of the search for home in the midst of upheaval. Moore has a novelist’s eye for suspense and emotional depth, and this unforgettable memoir is full of imaginative, lyrical flights and lush prose. In capturing both the hazy magic and the stark realities of what is becoming an increasingly pervasive experience, Moore shines a light on the great political and personal forces that continue to affect many migrants around the world, and calls us all to acknowledge the tenacious power of love and family.
“Immersive, exhilarating . . . This memoir adds an essential voice to the genre of migrant literature, challenging false popular narratives that migration is optional, permanent and always results in a better life.”—The New York Times Book Review
“In her bruising new memoir, Moore describes the perilous journey as well as her experience of being a black immigrant living in the American South. Through it all, she threads an urgent narrative about the costs of survival and the strength of familial love.”—TIME
“Riveting and beautifully written . . . The extraordinary power of [The Dragons, the Giant, the Women] resides not only in [Wayétu Moore’s] flight, but in her survival.”—National Book Review
“The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a beautifully written book about the experience of migrating—a story, particularly in this moment, that can never be told enough.”—Bitch Media
“A moving and richly drawn tale of a family threatened by violence in ‘90s Liberia . . . A powerful, utterly convincing, and unforgettable story.”—Chigozie Obioma
“A propulsive, heart-rending memoir of love and war and peace . . . The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a major contribution to the new literature of African immigration.”—Namwali Serpell
“A riveting narrative of survival and resilience and a tribute to the fierce love between parents and children.”—Mary Laura Philpott
“Deft and deeply human, Wayetu Moore’s The Dragons, the Giant, the Women had me pinned from its first page to its last.”—Mira Jacob
“Wayétu Moore stretches the art of writing on family, war, and movement to mythical heights with her otherworldly poeticism.”—Morgan Jerkins
“Identity, family ties, heroism, and gender roles are beautifully woven in Moore's fable-like narrative . . . Moore's observation that 'the best stories do not always end happily, but happiness will find its way in there somehow' captures the emotional complexity of this powerful, stirring, and imaginatively allegorical memoir.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Moore’s narrative style shines, weaving moments of lightness into a story of pain and conflict, family and war, loss and reunion.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Building to a thrumming crescendo, the pages almost fly past. Readers will be both enraptured and heartbroken by Moore’s intimate yet epic story of love for family and home.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)