Tucson Festival of Books: Happy 10th Birthday!

And a very happy one it was. Despite some unseasonal rain (what?! In Tucson?! In March?!), the 10th Tucson Festival of Books shone its usual ray of light on everything literary. Old perennial Luis Urrea starred in his tenth Tucson Festival while launching his new novel House of Broken Angels. In cahoots with the inspiring…

“Damnificados” launch in Turkey

A huge thank you to Pearson Turkey for arranging the launch of Damnificados in Istanbul. We used a venue called Kolektiv House, a funky set of rooms for hire, which was clearly frequented by young, artistic types. I felt right out of place. The event was for a select group of around twenty Pearson clients…

Ankara, Turkey: Trash Collectors Salvage Books, Open Library

Trash collectors in Ankara, Turkey, salvaged so many discarded books that they decided to open a library. After years of tossing away perfectly serviceable books, the sanitation workers asked how these books could be re-utilized. They came up with the idea of the library and then found a location – an abandoned brick factory (below)…

All the Knowledge in the World: Reflections on Eco’s Library

I was on a book tour in Italy recently. In an attempt to brush up my Italian beforehand, I watched, on youtube, interviews with Primo Levi, Italo Calvino, Stefano Benni, Orianna Fallaci, and Umberto Eco. Listening to Eco, I was reminded of his famous library, which contained 30,000 books. His home was described by Lila Azam Zanganeh in…

RIP Nicanor Parra, Chile’s anti-poet

Nicanor Parra always had the last laugh. By living to 103 and winning the Cervantes Prize – the highest award for a writer working in Spanish – he became “eminent” when all his life he’d been a contrarian. Parra dragged Latin American poetry into the streets. Rejecting all Romantic and flowery sentiments, he fashioned a…

“The Crown Ain’t Worth Much” by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

This debut collection sings. Forged in the fires of Columbus, Ohio, the poems are about childhood memories and community. If much of the work feels autobiographical, the collection transcends individual experience and speaks to anyone who’s ever watched friends fall apart, or got nostalgic over a piece of music, or been cheek to cheek with…

10 Martin Luther King Quotes for MLK Day

From the tradition that led to Barack Obama, Martin Luther King was among the most lyrical of leaders. He combined the tones of a preacher in the black southern tradition with the rhythms of a poet. Especially for MLK Day, here are some of his words.   1. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,…

“In the Wake: On Blackness and Being” by Christina Sharpe

Part memoir, part thesis, and part lyrical examination of what it means to be black in the 21st century, In The Wake is simply a great, great book. It bridges so many fields – social justice, poetry, fiction, Critical Race Theory, semiotics, semantics – yet retains complete coherence. It is beautiful, ingenious and tragic. In…

New Books on Race in the United States

  Invisible No More: Police Violence against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea J. Ritchie (Beacon Press) This book by Black feminist legal scholar, writer, and activist Andrea Ritchie looks at the ways black and indigenous women are affected by racial profiling, police brutality, and immigration enforcement. The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison…