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Suleika Jaouad Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Suleika Jaouad
Suleika Jaouad was born in New York City on July 5, 1988 to a Swiss mom and a Tunisian dad, and attended The Juilliard School’s pre-college program for the double bass.

Suleika speaks English, French (which is actually her first language), Farsi, Arabic, and Spanish. During high school, she would travel by herself to New York City early on Saturday mornings, lugging her double bass with her from her home in Saratoga to the pre-college program at Julliard.

She earned a BA with highest honors from Princeton University and her MFA in literature and writing from Bennington College. While she was at Princeton, she majored in Near Eastern Studies and doubled minored in gender studies and French, and got highest honors. During her time at Princeton, she worked on various human rights campaigns for Oxfam, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the African Union.

Suleika has studied abroad in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco where she researched and wrote about women’s issues.

She wrote the Emmy Award-winning “Life, Interrupted” column and her essays and reported features have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Women’s Health, NPR, and Vogue, among others.

Jaouad travels around the world teaching workshops and speaking, and was an Anacapa Scholar in Residence at the Thacher School and lectured in the Narrative Medicine Program at Columbia University.

She created the Isolation Journals, which is a community creativity project that was founded during the Covid-19 pandemic to help others out in converting isolation into artistic solitude. More than a hundred thousand people from all over the world joined in.

Her TED Talk called “What almost dying taught me about living” was released in June of 2019 and has gotten four million views. It was also one of the ten most popular of the year.

Her aspirations as a war correspondent got cut short when she was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 22. She began writing her New York Times column “Life, Interrupted” right from her hospital room at Sloan-Kettering, and has become a fierce advocate for people living with illness and having to endure life’s many other interruptions.

The title of her memoir, “Between Two Kingdoms”, borrows its title from an essay by Susan Sontag, called “Illness as Metaphor”. It describes how all of us have dual citizenship in the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick. After recovering from her long illness, she hopes she got repatriated back into the kingdom of the well.

Jaouad served on Barack Obama’s Presidential Cancer Panel, the Brooklyn Public Library’s Arts & Letters Committee, and the national advisory board of the Bone Marrow and Cancer Foundation. She has been an artist in residence at ArtYard, the Kerouac Project, and Ucross, and she was also awarded the Red Door Advocacy & Community Service Award.

“Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted” is a non-fiction book that was released in the year 2021. Suleika, in the summer after she graduated from college, was preparing, like they say in commencement speeches, to enter into “the real world”. She fell in love and moved to Paris so that she could become a war correspondent. The real world, however would end up taking her in to a much different sort of conflict zone.

It all began with an itch. First on her feet, then it went up her legs, sort of like a thousand invisible mosquito bites. Next came the exhaustion, and the six hour naps which just deepened her fatigue. Then she went to the doctor and, just a few weeks short of her 23rd birthday, she got a diagnosis: leukemia with a 35 percent chance to survive. Just like that, the life she had pictured for herself had just gone up in flames. By the time she went back home to New York, she had lost her apartment, her job, and her independence. She would spend much of the next four years in a hospital bed, battling for her life and chronicling the whole thing for The New York Times.

When she walked out of the cancer ward at last, after three and a half years of chemo, that clinical trial, and a bone marrow transplant, she was cured, at least according to her doctors. However like she would soon learn, a cure isn’t where the work of healing stops. That’s actually where it begins. She’d spent the previous fifteen hundred days in a desperate pursuit of a single goal: to survive. Now that she had done so, she realized that she had no clue how to live.

How would she even reenter the world and start living again? How could she possibly reclaim what she lost? She embarked, with a new best friend named Oscar (a terrier mutt) on a hundred day and fifteen thousand mile road trip all across the country. She set out to meet some of those strangers that wrote her during her years in the hospital.

There was the teen girl in Florida that was also recovering from cancer, a death-row inmate in Texas that spent his own years confined to just a room, and a teacher that mourned her son’s death in California. What she learned on this journey is that the divide between being well and sick is a porous one, and that the vast majority of all of us are going to travel back and forth between these realms through our entire lives.

Suleika delivers a memoir that is compelling, thought provoking, moving, and powerful. This is a mix of marvelous storytelling that has you feeling Suleika’s own fire and her fear throughout. Some readers found that this book lights the way onward while we continue to learn how we can endure the unknown. Readers found that this is one memoir that changed them profoundly, and has given them a new appreciation for life, for their independence and makes them want to go out and pursue their own passions.

Suleikia is a deft researcher, and is a smart, and at times painfully honest writer. It makes some readers eager to see what she does next.

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