Illuminating reading from a highly engaged author.

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PAY NO HEED TO THE ROCKETS

LIFE IN CONTEMPORARY PALESTINE

A noted Canadian nonfiction writer examines the Palestinian conflict through the viewpoints of known and emerging Palestinian writers.

Di Cintio (Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, 2013, etc.) first traveled to Israel in 1999. When he returned again in 2015, it was to seek out Palestinian writers to learn how they, rather than activists and politicians, saw the Arab-Israeli conflict. In this literary travelogue, the author records his encounters with Arab writers from the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. His first meeting was with a childhood friend of Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish. Both lived through the takeover of their village by Israeli soldiers in 1948, a moment that would mark Darwish and his writing forever. Fascinated by the lively literary scene in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Darwish’s home-in-exile for many years, Di Cintio explored the perspectives of other notable West Bank writers, including Lebanese-born Maya Abu-Alhayyat, who grew up knowing Palestine only “from what I saw on television.” A poet and short story writer, she eventually began writing for the most vulnerable of all Palestinians: children robbed of their innocence by parents and teachers who “want[ed] them to behave like adults and participate in the struggle.” In Jerusalem, Di Cintio met writers like 20-year-old Mohammed El-Kurd, whose poetry not only celebrated the contributions of women to the Palestinian struggle, but also actively “challenge[d] Palestinian masculine ideals.” Traveling to Nazareth, Di Cintio encountered Raji Bathish, a gay short story writer who vehemently rejected the idea that Israel’s accommodation of LGBTQ people was “evidence of [its] humanitarian virtue.” In the Gaza Strip, Di Cintio chatted with Asmaa al-Ghul, yet another outspoken young writer, whose stories about “ ‘honor killings,’ domestic abuse and government corruption have earned her scorn from Gaza’s authorities and an enduring notoriety from readers.” Interweaving history and politics, the book introduces Western readers to the modern Palestinian literary scene while celebrating the rich diversity of voices that comprise it.

Illuminating reading from a highly engaged author.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64009-081-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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

NIGHT

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

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