What You Don't Know Will Make a Whole New World: A Memoir


Product Details

$20.00  $18.60
Heyday Books
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.4 X 0.8 inches | 0.7 pounds

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About the Author

Dorothy Lazard was born in St. Louis and grew up in San Francisco and Oakland. A librarian for nearly forty years, she joined the staff of the Oakland Public Library in 2000. From 2009 until her retirement in 2021, she was the head librarian of OPL's Oakland History Center, where she encouraged people of all ages and backgrounds to explore local history. Lazard is the 2023 recipient of the Oscar Lewis Award in Western History from the Book Club of California. She lives in Oakland.


Dorothy Lazard is the 2023 recipient of the Oscar Lewis Award in Western History from the Book Club of California.

"In clear, calm, resolute prose, Lazard recounts the onslaught of urgent issues overpowering her Bay Area childhood [...] Yet the constant wonder of What You Don't Know is that Lazard almost never resorts to bitterness, vengefulness or despair as she seeks tools for pushing ahead. Her yearning to know, learn, understand and become remains powerful and creative, often against spectacular odds. [...] What You Don't Know will inspire for its grace, zest and courage." --Joan Frank, San Francisco Chronicle

"Lazard refers to her narrative as 'my recovery mission to retrieve a time in my life that marked me more deeply than any other, ' and she succeeds handily, thanks to rigorous scene-building and memorable characterizations of her family. This is a powerful account." --Publishers Weekly

"A coming-of-age memoir takes readers to the Bay Area of the late 1960s and '70s. [...] Lazard's story may exemplify a cultural awakening experienced by many of her Black peers, but it is also intensely individual, shaped as much by her own family circumstances as by the world around her. [...] Compelling and memorable." --Kirkus Reviews

"Themes of self-discovery and finding one's place are a text constant in What You Don't Know Will Make a Whole New World, a moving memoir about the enduring power of words." --Foreword

"Lazard was a beloved and stalwart librarian in Oakland. In this memoir, she recalls the Bay Area of the 1960s and 1970s, where she grew up. She also explores formative experiences and connections, the nuances of family, and her own curiosity and lust for life." --Alta Journal

"Lazard's journey to becoming an empowered Black woman with 'a place in this country' is a distinguished, uplifting story." --East Bay Express

"I've rarely encountered such an endearing authorial voice. Wry and observant, Dorothy Lazard's writing evokes such distinctive neighbors and family members in a time, place, and culture truly worth cherishing." --Susan D. Anderson, History Curator, California African American Museum