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About the book
  • Published: 5 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786090508
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $22.99

The Girl Who Smiled Beads




A riveting story of dislocation, survival, and the power of stories to break or save us

When Clemantine Wamariya was six years old, her world was torn apart. She didn't know why her parents began talking in whispers, or why her neighbours started disappearing, or why she could hear distant thunder even when the skies were clear.

As the Rwandan civil war raged, Clemantine and her sister Claire were forced to flee their home. They ran for hours, then walked for days, not towards anything, just away. they sought refuge where they could find it, and escaped when refuge became imprisonment. Together, they experienced the best and the worst of humanity. After spending six years seeking refuge in eight different countries, Clemantine and Claire were granted refugee status in America and began a new journey.

Honest, life-affirming and searingly profound, this is the story of a girl's struggle to remake her life and create new stories - without forgetting the old ones.

  • Pub date: 5 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786090508
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $22.99

About the Authors

Clemantine Wamariya

Clemantine Wamariya is a storyteller and human rights advocate. Born in Kigali, Rwanda, displaced by conflict, Clemantine migrated throughout seven African countries as a child. At age twelve, she was granted refugee status in the United States and went on to receive a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University. She lives in San Francisco.

Elizabeth Weil

Elizabeth Weil is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two daughters.


Praise for The Girl Who Smiled Beads

“Extraordinary”

The Guardian

“Sharp, moving memoir . . . Wamariya tells her own story with feeling, in vivid prose. She has remade herself, as she explains was necessary to do, on her own terms”

New York Times

“Her introspection, honesty and humanity in sharing her story and exploring these questions are thoughtful and moving to read”

Culture Fly

“A riveting story and one that, somehow, gives hope too”

Stylist, Spring Picks

“Clemantine Wamariya has written a defining, luminescent memoir that shines a sharp light on the dark forces that roil our age . . . Her gripping and brutally honest reflections inspire us to count our blessings and summon us to follow her fierce and unrelenting example to try to help build the world we wish to see”

Samantha Power, author of A Problem from Hell

“A touching tale of sorrow and hope, of the worst and the best of mankind”

I-M Magazine

“A powerful memoir”

Emerald Street

“Extraordinary and heartrending. Wamariya is as fiercely talented as she is courageous”

Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

“A deeply personal and emotive narrative.”

The Lancet Journal


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