Somewhat uneven writing amid a myriad of powerful images.
A visually stunning presentation of the lives of women and children surviving under the worst circumstances in Burma, Mexico, Russia and Malawi.
The project is a joint production of actress/reporter Kirshner, writer MacKinnon (Dead Man in Paradise: Unraveling a Murder from a Time of Evolution, 2007, etc.) and Shoebridge and Simons, creative directors at Adbusters. (The book also contains work from Chris Abani, Phoebe Gloeckner, Joe Sacco and others.) The authors open with the anonymous stories of refugees along the Thailand-Burma border, featuring sex workers in Burmese brothels where the HIV/AIDS rate is 25 percent, and children forced into service in the Burmese army. The horrific stories of rape, abortion and violence they tell are accompanied by equally disturbing artwork that combines paintings, drawings, text and photographs. In Russia, the setting is the Republic of Ingushetia, home to refugee camps filled with displaced persons from neighboring Chechnya. Included here is a stark six-part graphic novel, “Chechen War, Chechen Women,” depicting the grim lives of women during and after the war. The Mexican section looks at the lives of missing and murdered girls in Ciudad Juárez and features a still-missing teenager, Ericka, whose story is illustrated with Polaroid snapshots of empty rooms annotated by her mother, and Claudia, a murdered 20-year-old whose short life is illustrated with sketches, documents, posters, needlework pictures and collages. In Malawi, where HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are decimating the villages, a simple, poignant story of birth, life and death from “the wasting disease” is accompanied by delicate, lovely illustrations. The inmates of Kachere Prison, mostly poor orphan boys awaiting trial, narrate their stories of murder and minor theft, with the text superimposed over bleak, harsh, poster-like blocks of type. Kirshner, who visited the brothels, refugee camps and prisons in each of these countries to interview the subjects, links the pieces, provides the background necessary to understand each situation and offers her thoughts and impressions. The contributions of her collaborators are not individually identified, but the visuals lift this work above the ordinary.Somewhat uneven writing amid a myriad of powerful images.
Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2008
Page Count: 336
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008
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by Paul Kalanithi ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 19, 2016
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
Page Count: 248
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015
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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.
“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
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019
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