What We Are Reading Today: Beneath the Tamarind Tree by Isha Sesay

Updated 11 July 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Beneath the Tamarind Tree by Isha Sesay

  • Sesay combines the released Chibok girls’ stories with her own journalistic experiences to powerful effect

Isha Sesay, the author of Beneath the Tamarind Tree, is a Cambridge University-educated, Peabody Award-winning former anchor for CNN.

Sesay led CNN’s Africa reporting for more than a decade — covering stories ranging from the Arab Spring to the death of Nelson Mandela.

In her first book, Sesay has a chance to explore the story most important to her career and closest to her heart: The Daesh-affiliated terrorist group Boko Haram’s 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from the northern Nigerian town of Chibok.

For two years, 219 of the girls remained in captivity and 112 are still imprisoned.

In Beneath the Tamarind Tree, Sesay combines the released Chibok girls’ stories with her own journalistic experiences to powerful effect.

“In 2014, #BringBackOurGirls was on everybody’s lips. People were tweeting and demonstrating. Then it just disappeared. It speaks to me of the ease to which the West can look away from the crimes perpetrated against black and brown people, in particular women. The ease with which we so quickly move on,” Sesay said in recent published remarks.


What We Are Reading Today: The Slow Moon Climbs by Susan Mattern

Updated 15 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Slow Moon Climbs by Susan Mattern

  • This book, then, introduces new ways of understanding life beyond fertility

Are the ways we look at menopause all wrong? Historian Susan Mattern says yes, and The Slow Moon Climbs reveals just how wrong we have been. Taking readers from the rainforests of Paraguay to the streets of Tokyo, Mattern draws on historical, scientific, and cultural research to reveal how our perceptions of menopause developed from prehistory to today. For most of human history, people had no word for menopause and did not view it as a medical condition. Rather, in traditional foraging and agrarian societies, it was a transition to another important life stage. 

This book, then, introduces new ways of understanding life beyond fertility, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Mattern examines the fascinating “Grandmother Hypothesis” — which argues for the importance of elders in the rearing of future generations — as well as other evolutionary theories that have generated surprising insights about menopause and the place of older people in society. She looks at agricultural communities where households relied on postreproductive women for the family’s survival.