Carolyn Forché

What You Have Heard Is True
  • What You Have Heard Is True

  • 'Astonishing, powerful, so important at this time' - Margaret Atwood (on Twitter)
    'Riveting . . . intricate and surprising' - The New York Times
    'Reading it will change you, perhaps forever' - San Francisco Chronicle

    An electrifying memoir set in the Salvadoran Civil War:
    the true story of a young poet who becomes an activist through a trial by fire

    Carolyn Forché, an American poet, is 27 when a mysterious stranger called Leonel appears on her doorstep, having driven direct from El Salvador. Her friend has heard rumours about who he might be - a communist, a CIA operative, a sharpshooter, a motorcycle racer, a revolutionary, a small coffee farmer - but nobody seems to know for certain. Captivated for reasons she doesn't fully understand, she accepts his invitation to visit and learn about his country, and so becomes enmeshed in the early stages of a brutal civil conflict which will ultimately see the Salvadoran state turn paramilitary death squads against its own people, and leave nearly 90,000 dead or disappeared. Leonel knows that war is coming, and he wants Carolyn - as a writer - to bear witness to it.

    Told across peasant shanties, protest marches, the grand homes of retired generals and safe houses on the run, What You Have Heard Is True is the devastating true story of a young woman's choice to engage with horror in order to help others, of an unlikely friendship which will change the
    course of her life, and of a remarkable man's doomed effort to save his people from disaster.

Carolyn Forché is an American poet, editor, translator and human rights activist. Her honours include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement and three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2017, she became one of the first two poets ever to receive the Windham-Campbell Prize. Forché is a University Professor at Georgetown University.

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