“Here there is no why”: on re-reading Primo Levi

Desperate times call for great books. Primo Levi, a Jewish prisoner arriving at Auschwitz, is thirsty. He reaches to break off an icicle with which to sate his thirst and a guard snatches it away. Levi asks, “Warum?” (Why?) The guard replies, “Hier ist kein warum.” (Here there is no why.) If This Be A…

“Another Door Calls” by Elise Stuart

Elise Stuart’s debut collection shimmers in the rain, gets snagged on the cholla, frees itself in the night winds, and goes rolling down a flooded arroyo. This terrific collection couldn’t have been written anywhere but New Mexico, Stuart’s spiritual home. Her familial roots lie elsewhere, but her narrative voice and sensibility reside firmly in the…

“Damnificados” wins Independent Publisher Book Award

Damnificados has won the Independent Publisher Book Award for Multicultural Fiction. This year the organizers received more than 5,000 entries. They must have some voracious readers on their panels. In the organizers’ own words: “Each year since 1996, the Independent Publisher Book Awards competition has identified a reading list of progressive, thought-provoking books, the kind…

Twelve New Books with Social Justice Themes

1. Decolonization: A Short History by Jan C. Jansen and Jürgen Osterhammel (Princeton University Press) Decolonization examines the consequences of European, Japanese and American decolonization from World War I to the 1990s. It details the dramatic collapses of long-established imperial regimes, some in peace, others in a torrent of blood, and describes the long shadow cast…

“We the People: Stories from the Community Rights Movement in the United States” by Thomas Linzey and Anneke Campbell

“Communities are saying to the government and corporations, “We’re no longer willing to be fracked, poisoned and polluted.” They are mobilizing against a system of law that empowers corporations over communities … Communities are saying this is not acceptable, it’s not sustainable, it’s not democratic, and it’s going to change.” (Chad Nicholson, consultant for Grant…