Nativists will hate it, but no matter. Khanna makes an urgent, powerful argument for more open international borders.

MOVE

THE FORCES UPROOTING US

A nuanced discussion of the increasing importance of free movement across the planet.

“Almost no Western democracies are prepared for the new age of mass migrations,” writes Khanna, founder and managing partner of FutureMap and author of The Future Is Asian(2019) and other well-received books about global affairs. Climate change will force the evacuation of large portions of, for instance, the Indian subcontinent, and millions of people from that large region will move to places like Kazakhstan and other nations of Central Asia that may be relatively both more hospitable to agriculture and underpopulated. Realignments are likely to be regional. Residents of sweltering parts of western China will find themselves living in Russia (where, Khanna notes, Chinese settlers are already flocking to the southern shores of Lake Baikal), while residents of embattled Central American nations may bypass the U.S. for Canada, where increasing amounts of arable land are opening up thanks to the warming of the Arctic. These movements trend to the north, and while the countries most capable of receiving large numbers of migrants, particularly Canada and Russia, will meet them differently, Khanna argues that the north and its aging populace can use a shot of fresh energy. “Remember there is no zero-sum competition between local and foreign workers: A greater influx of labor itself stimulates the economy and creates greater demand for labor,” he writes. Khanna’s book is rich in implication: Air conditioning may have a deleterious effect on the environment, but it can be done better and more efficiently, allowing people to remain in places such as Abu Dhabi and Singapore. Regardless, he writes, we need to think our way toward “Civilization 3.0,” in which seasonal movement is possible, nations spend money on water desalinization and clean energy, and the vagaries of human geography are more nimbly taken into account.

Nativists will hate it, but no matter. Khanna makes an urgent, powerful argument for more open international borders.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982168-97-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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

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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

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