Blue Daughter of the Red Sea

Blue Daughter of the Red Sea

by Meti Birabiro


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    Born into a life of constant financial, physical, and moral threat, Meti Birabiro takes refuge in literature and the fantastic. Blue Daughter of the Red Sea is Birabiro’s poetic account of the harsh reality of her young life spread across three continents. Her voice is a fresh mélange of child and adult perspectives, at once brutally honest and wise beyond her years. Through her journey from Ethiopia to Italy and finally to the United States, we encounter Birabiro’s relatives, friends, and enemies—relationships so intense that these people become her vampires, devils, angels, and saints. These characterizations always lead her back to the truth, helping her to decipher what is fair and good, to understand what she must cherish and what she must rage against.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780299195700
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date: 01/01/1989
Edition description: 1
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Meti Birabiro studied comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She currently lives in the United States.

Read an Excerpt

Poverty is venom that slowly saps one's existence. It is a white noise that quakes the shape of survival. It corrodes the scenery and cuts one's world asunder. I was born and grew up in the heart of that corrosive acid. Dire Dawa, a small city warmly embraced by a fiery sun and caressed by some magicless dust, was the name of my hometown. Life was not charming in Dire Dawa. Children ran barefoot against a background of feces-embedded roads, spinning around the desert city, puffing on the sand so forming dunes of smaller versions, while the little ones piggybacked on their mother's back. They had the appearance of several shiny, brown ponies: untamed and wild creatures. Their feet moved like those of a ballerina without her tutu, dancing to the tune of an unheeded song: free. Their laughter rang like a violent rain of diamonds. And they shouted in a language as inarticulate as their age, and yelled in voices as overly used as the sole of the shoe that was guarded at home for special occasions. The boys wandered nearly naked, their genitals covered with raglike shorts like savages from the jungle. The girls wore simple dresses, their undeveloped chests not yet choked by stifling brassieres. Their dust-devoured feet matched the soiled hands, their nasal mucus, the nappy hair that the sandy and adventurous day had transformed into strands of gray hair, and the clothes, previously immersed in mud. There were cuts all over their legs and ulcers noted on their knees, forming rings of pus. Lice walked on their head and tapeworms lived in their stomach. —Excerpt from Blue Daughter of the Red Sea

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments and Thanksxiii
Book 1Exodus of Bodies3
3Reformatory Sessions26
4God and Satan34
Book 2Exodus of Souls41
Book 3Exodus of Innocence65
8Initiation Rites84
11Suicide Machine109
12The Trouble with the Feet116
Book 4The Book of Disenchantments121
13Divine Detour127
14Pandora's Box138
15The Boxer142
16The Dancer163

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