Monday, June 29, 2009

For October: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

For October, we have selected The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz,
Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister— dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fuk├║—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rights Readers Authors on Iran

The Complete PersepolisChecking in with some of our authors on the situation in Iran...

If you haven't heard Robin Wright (Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East) weigh in on matters Iran, you've been on vacation on a desert island. Here are just a few links:

TIME: Lessons For the US As the Iranian Revolution Unravels
LAT: The evolution of Iran's revolution
WAMU 88.5 FM The Diane Rehm Show for Monday June 22, 2009
Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis(yeah, I'd prefer a more pictorial response-- maybe later):

Marjane Satrapi and Mohsen Makhmalbaf call on international community
Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books):

Al Jazeera English: Iranian writer on poll result
Video from CNN:

Stephen Kinzer (Crescent and Star and also All the Shah's Men) has this analysis:

Guardian: Democracy, made in Iran
(If you'd like a little more positive news on the democracy front, check out his comments in this interview on Turkish politics: Armies will no longer participate in politics, says Kinzer)

Be informed! Take action!

Amnesty International actions
AIUSA Iran page
The latest on Iran from AIUSA's blog

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Our June Author: Steven Galloway

The Cellist of SarajevoThis month we read The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway.

Lets start with this CBC interview,
While media coverage of the conflict was loaded with identifiers like “Muslim,” “Serb,” “Croat” and “Bosnian,” Galloway purposely avoided using any ethnic or religious labels in The Cellist of Sarajevo. The main characters are simply referred to as Sarajevans, their common enemy described only as “the men on the hills.”
On being Canadian, from Three Monkey's,
One advantage to being a Canadian writer is that, unlike American writers, the concept of writing the Great Canadian Novel doesn't really exist. Writing the next Gatsby isn't something you're trying to do, or at least you're not obliged to try. I think of Canada, in terms of world nations, as that guy at the party that everyone likes but nobody wants to talk to for too long! Which gives one time to sit quietly and observe what's going on. You're brought up in Canada to think about the rest of the world. We're a country full of immigrants, and we're by and large an empty nation. Many of the traits of Canada as a nation are the traits of a writer, except for extraordinary politeness - that's not a great trait for a writer!!
In this video, the author takes on a tour of key locations for the novel:

Another audio interview here.

Background on Vedran Smailovic, the orignal 'Cellist of Sarajevo'.

A lovely children's book about the cellist:

A musical homage, courtesy of Yo-Yo Ma is also available.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Rights Readers Round-up

Another of our periodic round-ups of what's happening with Rights Readers authors:

For a while there I thought the Wiwa v. Shell trial had been eclipsed by the Sotomayor nomination and Prop 8 ruling. But no, it was just delayed again. In the meantime here is Ken Wiwa's statement about the case from the Guardian,
I am not interested in retributive justice but a justice that is creative, a justice that enables all stakeholders in this affair to account for and learn lessons from the past so that we can all move forward within a constructive and sustainable framework
Breaking: Settlement Reached in Human Rights Cases Against Royal Dutch. Ken Wiwa reacts: Some release from the torments of the past

Paul Farmer, the subject of Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains is under consideration for head of USAID.

Sister Helen tweets!
  • Things are changing with death penalty in the US. Even in TX & LA juries aren’t handing down death sentences much any more. #
  • In LA, nary a death sentence for 12 years! In the buckle of the death penalty belt, Harris County, TX, no d.p. from juries in a whole year. #
If you're not a twitterer, you might find want to follow the author of Dead Man Walking at her blog.

Walter Mosley (Little Scarlet) explains why he needed to create a new character to reflect the age of Obama at Slate V.

Martha Minow didn't make the Supreme Court cut, but she was on the frontlines promoting her Yale law school classmate.

Finally, Lisa See, promoting her new book Shanghai Girls, on her family's history in Chinatown and Pasadena,
After the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, my family's store and many other buildings along Spring Street were condemned. What had once been China City was officially wiped off the map. My family moved the F. Suie One Co. to Pasadena, where it's celebrating its 112th year in business.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Rights Readers Authors on Tiananmen

Mandate Of Heaven: In China, A New Generation Of Entrepreneurs, Dissidents, Bohemians And TechnocraNow that we've caught up with our authors writing on Tibet, here are three familiar names weighing in on the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen:

Ma Jian (The Noodle Maker) writes a moving account of how Tiananmen has touched him and his friends-- from one whose arm was crushed by a tank to another frightened young army conscript. He even sneaks in a reference to W.G. Sebald's Austerlitz,
Xidan Book Store, a five-minute walk down Changan Avenue from the Zhongnanhai government compound, is the largest bookshop in Asia. A few days after meeting Chen Guang, I went there to buy a Chinese translation of WG Sebald's Austerlitz. Like the protagonist, I too am always struggling to find out how many memories a human life needs. This five-floor bookshop sells 100,000 books a day. A huge poster of smiling President Obama is displayed close to the main entrance. Inside you can buy translations of the latest scientific or economic tomes, and books charting China's 5,000-year history, but you will not find a word about the Tiananmen massacre, or any accurate accounts of the other tragedies that the Communists have inflicted on China since 1949. These missing chapters of the nation's history weaken the power of every other Chinese text in the shop.
Ma Jian also appears in a Guardian "where are they now" rundown of Tiananmen activists. Those who read Mandate Of Heaven(see below) will a encounter familiar names.

Ha Jin (Ocean of Words, The Crazed) offers a reflection in the NYT about how Tiananmen forced him to write in a foreign tongue,
To some Chinese, my choice of English is a kind of betrayal. But loyalty is a two-way street. I feel I have been betrayed by China, which has suppressed its people and made artistic freedom unavailable. I have tried to write honestly about China and preserve its real history. As a result, most of my work cannot be published in China.
Three other Chinese writers, Yu Hua, Yi Yunli and Lijia Zhang (certainly all are on the short list for future Rights Reads) are worth checking out as well.

At the Council for Foreign Relations, Orville Schell (Mandate Of Heaven) contributes to a collection of retrospectives, pointing to the recent release of Zhao Ziyang's memoirs to conclude that no amount of economic success can bury the past. The other views are worth a look too (Michael Anti: the internet is the new Tiananmen square...) For Schell's eyewitness account of the events of spring 1989, see this PBS Frontline interview (and watch the full Tank Man documentary online).
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...