Griest, Stephanie Elizondo 1974-
GRIEST, Stephanie Elizondo 1974-
PERSONAL: Born 1974. Education: University of Texas, Austin, received degrees in journalism and post-Soviet studies, 1997.
CAREER: Former editor and journalism instructor for China Daily; Associated Press, Austin, TX, former political reporter; former reporter for Odyssey (nonprofit education Web site); Youth Free Expression Network, New York, NY, former coordinator; Free Expression Project, former spokesperson.
MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Honors and scholarships from El Andar, USA Today, National Forum of Hispanic Journalists, Freedom Forum, Network of Hispanic Communicators, Headliners Foundation, Pan-American Golf Writer's Association, Scripps-Howard, National Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and University of Texas, Austin School of Journalism; Ragdale Foundation residency, 2003.
Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana, Villard (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including Washington Post, Latina, New York Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Texas Triangle, and to "Travelers' Tales" guides.
SIDELIGHTS: Stephanie Elizondo Griest has written for newspapers and magazines on such subjects as belly dancing, filmmaking, and religious cults, and she also traveled through forty-two states gathering history for the nonprofit, educational Web site Odyssey. Beginning in 1996, Griest pursued her dream to become a foreign correspondent by traveling to Moscow with a group of students; there she learned the language and began her four-year tour of twenty-one countries, twelve of them in the Communist bloc. She went to Beijing, where she worked for the English-language version of China Daily, and on another occasion, she visited Cuba.
In Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana, Griest writes primarily of the three cities of the title. "The value of all this comes down to Griest getting off the beaten track, which she does often enough to keep the pages turning," noted a Kirkus Reviews writer. She recalls her experience as a journalist in China and about the care taken in writing about controversial subjects. She worked in a children's shelter in Moscow, and learned about the consumption habits of alcohol and food in each country. In Cuba, she focused on the culture, particularly the dances. A Publishers Weekly contributor said that Griest "doesn't flinch from depicting the brutal effects of authoritarianism and economic decline, or how her experiences hastened her political and emotional maturity."
Steven E. Alford wrote in the Houston Chronicle that this is "definitely a young person's book, chronicling as it does boyfriends, nights of drunkenness, and lots of dancing. Readers may also be struck by Griest's capacity to empathize with peoples we've been instructed to hate. But therein lies the charm of the story: a smart, daring, accomplished single woman ready to thoughtfully explore other countries and draw her own independent conclusions." Booklist contributor Janet St. John felt that Griest "is a fine observer, open to experiences and frank in expression, and she certainly is entertaining."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2004, Janet St. John, review of Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana, p. 1127.
Houston Chronicle, April 4, 2004, Steven E. Alford, review of Around the Bloc, p. 18.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004, review of Around the Bloc, p. 23.
Library Journal, March 1, 2004, Alison Hopkins, review of Around the Bloc, p. 96.
Publishers Weekly, January 5, 2004, review of Around the Bloc, p. 48.
Stephanie Elizondo Griest Home Page,http://www.aroundthebloc.com (August 22, 2004).*