An indispensible study for readers interested in Genet, the Black Panthers, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict or, more...

A critical investigation of French writer and philosopher Jean Genet (1910–1986) in his later years, 1968 until his death.

Unfailingly controversial and provocative during his life, Genet is now known for novels like Our Lady of the Flowers (1943) and The Thief’s Journal (1949), plays like The Blacks (1958) and numerous books of poetry including The Man Sentenced to Death (1945). Less studied but perhaps more contentious are his later works like The Prisoner of Love (1986), as well as his political activism among such disenfranchised groups as the Black Panthers in the United States and the Palestinians in the Middle East. In his first English-language translation (first published in France, this book was nominated for the Prix Fémina in 1997), essayist and novelist Laroche demonstrates how Genet’s philosophy became increasingly unsettled as he delved deeper into the lives of people like George Jackson, Malcolm X, Bobby Seale and Yasser Arafat, as well as his own origin and identity. The trope of identity pervades this text as the author reveals Genet’s struggles to come to terms with issues regarding race, homeland, origins, nation, borders and power. For example, Laroche examines the nuanced and tenuous difference between violence and brutality, ultimately suggesting that the violence by Black Americans during the civil-rights era was a valid response to the brutality and oppression perpetrated by whites. The key to understanding Genet, writes the author, is through language, which underlies identity, homeland and “the heart of the writer.” Genet’s discoveries and conclusions were consistently insightful and provocative, though not always desirable, moral or ethical. His last journey, as revealed by Laroche, is imbued with beauty, metamorphosis and emancipation on one hand, and monstrosity, nihilism and hopelessness on the other.

An indispensible study for readers interested in Genet, the Black Panthers, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict or, more generally, the philosophy of humanism.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55152-365-1

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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