Annal: 2007 Kiriyama Prize for Nonfiction

Results of the Kiriyama Prize in the year 2007.

Book:Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time

Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin

The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban’s backyard.

Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.

Book:Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir

Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir

Ernestine Hayes

In the spring, the bear returns to the forest, the glacier returns to its source, and the salmon returns to the fresh water where it was spawned. Drawing on the special relationship that the Native people of southeastern Alaska have always had with nature, Blonde Indian is a story about returning. Told in eloquent layers that blend native stories and metaphor with social and spiritual journeys, this enchanting memoir traces the author’s life from her difficult childhood growing up in the Tlingit community, through her adulthood, during which she lived for some time in Seattle and San Francisco, and eventually to her return home.

Neither fully Native American nor Euro-American, Hayes encounters a unique sense of alienation from both her Native community and the dominant culture. We witness her struggles alongside other Tlingit men and women—many of who never left their Native…[more]

Book:Chinese Lessons

Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China

John Pomfret

A first-hand account of the remarkable transformation of China over the past forty years as seen through the life of an award-winning journalist and his four Chinese classmates.

As a twenty-year-old exchange student from Stanford University, John Pomfret spent a year at Nanjing University in China. His fellow classmates were among those who survived the twin tragedies of Mao’s rule—the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution—and whose success in government and private industry today are shaping China’s future. Pomfret went on to a career in journalism, spending the bulk of his time in China. After attending the twentieth reunion of his class, he decided to reacquaint himself with some of his classmates. Chinese Lessons is their story and his own.

Beginning with Pomfret’s first days in China, Chinese Lessons takes us back to the often torturous paths that…[more]

Book:The Haiku Apprentice

The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan

Abigail Friedman

Abigail Friedman was an American diplomat in Tokyo, not a writer. A chance encounter leads her to a haiku group, where she discovers poetry that anyone can enjoy writing. Her teacher and fellow haiku group members instruct her in seasonal flora and fauna, and gradually she learns to describe the world in plain words, becoming one of the millions in Japan who lead a haiku life. This is the author’s story of her literary and cultural voyage, and more: it is an invitation to readers to form their own neighborhood haiku groups and, like her, learn to see the world anew.

Book:Tigers in Red Weather

Tigers in Red Weather: A Quest to See the Last Wild Tigers

Ruth Padel

Poet, writer, and descendant of Charles Darwin, Ruth Padel set out to visit a tropical jungle and wildlife sanctuary in India—and her visit turned into a remarkable two-year journey through eleven countries in search of that most elusive and most beautiful animal: the tiger. Armed with her grandmother’s opera glasses and Tunisian running shoes, she set off across Asia to ask the question: can the tiger be saved from extinction in the wild?

Tigers are an “umbrella species”, they need everything in the forest to work in tandem: they eat deer, the deer need vegetation, the vegetation has to be pollinated by birds, mammals, rodents and butterflies. If you save the tiger, you save everything else. Today, the 5,000 tigers that still survive in the wild live only in Asia and are scattered throughout 14 countries. Padel says that while tigers will never become extinct—they are too popular for that—they may disappear from the wild. There are…[more]

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