Wednesday, June 25, 2008

For October: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

For October we have selected The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid,

At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter . . .

Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by the elite valuation firm of Underwood Samson. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore.

But in the wake of september 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his budding relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. And Changez’s own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.

Monday, June 16, 2008

For September: Selling Olga by Louisa Waugh

For September, we have selected Selling Olga: Stories of Human Trafficking by Louisa Waugh,
It’s seems inconceivable in the 21st century, but human trafficking is now the world’s fastest-growing illegal industry: according to U.S. government estimates, between 700,000 and two million people have become victims. Following three years of in-depth research, award-winning author and journalist Louisa Waugh has produced a vivid, unflinching account of how this immoral commerce operates and why it thrives. Throughout Eastern Europe, a combination of war and poverty has led to women being sold in bars, confined, and coerced into sex work. And while Waugh focuses especially on one woman, Olga, who tells her own story in angry, heartbreaking detail, she also introduces us to many others across Europe including Nigerian women in Italy and migrants trapped in other forms of forced labor. She helps us understand why, in spite of global awareness, relentless anti-trafficking campaigns, and increasing numbers of imprisonments, this type of crime hasn’t disappeared…and why, in spite of everything, there is hope for change.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Our June Author: Daniel Alarcon

Our June author, Daniel Alarcon, has made my job easy this month with his own website. Check out the links page for interviews, readings and short stories.

From The Elegant Variation, we learn about the imagined setting for Lost City Radio,
When I was on tour last, for War by Candlelight, I always found myself saying, “If Peru was an invented country, and Lima an invented city, many people would still recognize it,” and I guess I sort of followed my own advice. I invented a country, a city, drew upon my experiences in Lima, upon my travels in West Africa, upon texts I read about Chechnya (the incomparable Anna Politkovskaya, RIP), or Beirut, or Mumbai.
Also, be sure to check out that interview for the author's experiences in Peru with a family looking for the disappeared.

From the LA Weekly, we learn more about the real life inspiration for the book,
Alarcón began collecting material during a trip to Lima in 1999 to research the life of his uncle Javier, a leftist professor who was “disappeared” 10 years earlier during the violent Shining Path guerrilla war that over two decades claimed 69,000 lives. His uncle’s life is the basis for the character Rey, a university botanist who ventures into the jungle and gradually becomes involved in a guerrilla movement. During his time in Lima, Alarcón was an avid fan of a radio show called Buscapersonas, or “People Finder.”
The weekly also has much about the Alarcon's complex identity, as do these essays in Washington Post and Salon.
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