INVISIBLE WOMEN

DATA BIAS IN A WORLD DESIGNED FOR MEN

While some readers may suggest that equality has arrived and gender no longer matters, this book, which should have wide...

A writer, broadcaster, and feminist activist exposes a global knowledge gap in data pertaining to gender.

Criado Perez (Do It Like a Woman…and Change the World, 2015), who was named Liberty Human Rights Campaigner of the Year in Britain in 2013, takes on the challenge of telling the story of the unknown, addressing countless ways in which data about women have been—and continue to be—left out of research that informs everything from daily life to public policy. The author provides an incisive narrative paced more like a novel than a scientific study, offering digestible information with a sharp dose of wit. From heart attack symptoms to usage of public transportation, women’s patterns don’t always replicate men’s. However, like algorithms seeking simplicity, researchers may set aside differences as “atypical,” thus missing the data-rich point that while women’s perspectives aren’t necessarily problematic, ignoring them is. Painting a portrait out of negative space—this is “a story about absence—and that sometimes makes it hard to write about”—Criado Perez draws attention to information gaps in fields as diverse as urban planning, tax law, design, medicine, technology, disaster relief efforts, and politics. In focusing on how research has ignored, obscured, or failed to address gender differences, the author offers a balance of statistics, provocative questions, and concise assessments of systemic bias and how to address it. She pinpoints how the personal and the political intersect in these data gaps, providing a lens to interrogate gender-neutral defaults and reveling in examples of how including women (sometimes a single woman) quickly “solves” persistent problems. In clear language, the author builds a strong case for greater inclusion with this thoughtful and surprisingly humorous view of institutional bias and gendered information gaps.

While some readers may suggest that equality has arrived and gender no longer matters, this book, which should have wide popular appeal, is a solid corrective to that line of thought.

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2907-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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