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MY FOURTH TIME, WE DROWNED

SEEKING REFUGE ON THE WORLD'S DEADLIEST MIGRATION ROUTE

An important contribution to the literature of forced immigration and humanitarian crisis.

A powerful, horrific account of the rigors that African immigrants face in fleeing their homelands for sanctuary in Europe.

“You become cargo, a piece of meat, a being that loses humanity when you can no longer recognize the humanity of others around you.” So writes Hayden, the Africa correspondent for the Irish Times, regarding the global refugee crisis. The European Union has seemed of two minds about illegal immigration into its domain: Leaders lament the human rights implications the refugees underscore even as they put more effort into blocking the flow. “In 2018,” writes the author, “a study found that almost 1,000 kilometers of border walls had been erected by EU member states and states in the European Schengen travel area since the fall of the Berlin Wall nineteen years before.” Moreover, the EU has contracted with the Libyan government—such as it is in a time of civil war—to intercept refugees crossing the middle Mediterranean and house them in settlements that resemble concentration camps, one even bearing the nickname “Guantánamo.” In some cases, refugees are used as human shields, meant to deter attacks by rival warlords, often to no avail. Worse, many are forced into slavery, either in Libya or delivered into the hands of the Mafia in southern Italy and put to work on farms there. Hayden tells her story through deep exploration of legal papers, archives, and government data. Even more affective are her personal encounters and interviews with refugees themselves, whose situations, if anything, seem to be worsening. “Between 2014 and 2020,” she writes, “more than twenty thousand men, women, and children would die on the Mediterranean Sea,” while Europeans who try to assist them often became targets of legal prosecution. The narrative is consistently harrowing, revealing the complexities within a global crisis that lacks an easy solution, especially as the numbers of refugees mount.

An important contribution to the literature of forced immigration and humanitarian crisis.

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-61219-945-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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THE AGE OF GRIEVANCE

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

The New York Times columnist serves up a cogent argument for shelving the grudge and sucking it up.

In 1976, Tom Wolfe described the “me decade” as a pit of mindless narcissism. A half century later, Bruni, author of Born Round and other bestselling books, calls for a renaming: “‘Me Turning Point’ would have been more accurate, because the period of time since has been a nonstop me jamboree.” Our present cultural situation, he notes, is marked by constant grievance and endless grasping. The ensuing blame game has its pros. Donald Trump, he notes, “became a victor by playing the victim, and his most impassioned oratory, such as it was, focused not on the good that he could do for others but on the bad supposedly done to him.” Bruni is an unabashed liberal, and while he places most of the worst behavior on the right—he opens with Sean Hannity’s bleating lie that the Biden administration was diverting scarce baby formula from needy Americans to illegal immigrants—he also allows that the left side of the aisle has committed its share of whining. A case in point: the silencing of a professor for showing an image of Mohammed to art students, neither religiously proscribed nor done without ample warning, but complained about by self-appointed student censors. Still, “not all grievances are created equal,” he writes. “There is January 6, 2021, and there is everything else. Attempts by leaders on the right to minimize what happened that day and lump it together with protests on the left are as ludicrous as they are dangerous.” Whether from left or right, Bruni calls for a dose of humility on the part of all: “an amalgam of kindness, openness, and silliness might be an effective solvent for grievance.”

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668016435

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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