NINE PARTS OF DESIRE

THE HIDDEN WORLD OF ISLAMIC WOMEN

A well-crafted, absorbing account of Islamic women's lives as seen through the eyes of a secular-minded, Australian-born feminist journalist. Wall Street Journal Middle East correspondent Brooks describes with sensitivity and clarity her conversations and relationships with Islamic women, from the blue-jean-clad, American-born queen of Jordan to a devout Palestinian who shares her abusive husband with another woman in a four-room hovel with 14 children. Many of the obstacles she describes are well known: Some Islamic women are not allowed to show flesh or pray out loud in public (their voices are too arousing and could provoke unholy thoughts in men); many professions are closed to women; and severe sexual double standards still exist. However, Brooks's lively interpretations of Islamic tradition offer a useful challenge to Western stereotypes. According to her, Mohammed's teachings on the role of Islamic women, not to mention his living example, are complex and contradictory, often in direct opposition to the gender politics of today's extreme fundamentalists. Unfortunately, the author's naive faith in her own culture's progress allows her to make some rather arrogant statements, such as, ``Like most Westerners, I always imagined the future as an inevitably brighter place, where a kind of moral geology will have eroded the cruel edges of past and present wrongs. But in Gaza and Saudi Arabia...the future is a place that looks darker every day.'' Stemming from a similar blind spot, perhaps, is the short shrift given to Middle Eastern feminist activists and scholars. Few organized women's movements are discussed, and Brooks's treatment of Egyptian feminist Nawal Saadawi's persecution by the radical Islamic group Jihad and the Egyptian government totally overlooks the influence she has had; many believe Saadawi and other feminists are responsible, for example, for the Egyptian government's partial banning of clitoridectomy. Nonetheless, Brooks is a fine storyteller, though at times her tales feel incomplete. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-385-47576-4

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Anchor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

more