"This is a story about rogues," opens Helene Cooper's memoir The House at Sugar Beach. "Rogues," she explains, "broke into your house while you were sleeping and made off with your fine china. Thieves worked for the government and stole money from the public treasury." Cooper brings the even eye of a journalist and the lyric prose of a poet to the pages of the book, which uses her personal story to tell the complicated history of Liberia. She brings the tension between the native people and the African former slaves who returned to the continent to colonize a new, free land into sharp focus. As wealthy descendents of former slaves, Cooper's family was able to adopt a native child, Eunice, who kept Cooper company in their huge, lonely house in the middle of the bush. When Cooper and her family were forced to flee at the beginning of the civil war, Eunice remained behind. In The House at Sugar Beach, Cooper returns to her homeland, a place she has avoided her entire adult life, in search of her sister and her own redemption.
Tue., Sept. 16, 8 p.m., 2008