This recurring class explores contemporary memoirs by writers from diverse social backgrounds. This semester offers two authors who map the emotional landscape of private life while addressing important themes in history, politics, and culture. The first class will discuss Haben by Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School, whose life story traces her inspirational path from social isolation to an influential career as a human rights lawyer. Haben grew up in California as the daughter of Eritrean parents who fled war-torn Ethiopia. Born with exceptionally poor vision and hearing that deteriorated as she aged, her positive outlook and innovative spirit helped her overcome barriers, build a school in Mali, and even climb an iceberg in Alaska. In college, she advocated for a braille cafeteria menu; in law school, she developed a pioneering text-to-braille communication system. Ultimately, Haben celebrates the potential of those whose real disability is living in a society that makes too few accommodations for their physical impairments. The second class will discuss the graphic memoir Good Talk by novelist Mira Jacob. Named one of the “Best Books of 2019” by The New York Times, Good Talk begins with a child’s innocent questions about race and develops into an honest, moving, and often funny journey about American identities, mixed-race families, and the realities that both divide and connect us in our multicultural world. Born to Indian immigrants and raised in the American Southwest — and now living in Brooklyn with her Jewish husband and young son — Jacob’s memoir offers a striking blend of pen-and-ink drawings, photographs, and dialogue laced with candor, insight, and a full range of human emotions.