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…

“The End of Imagination” by Arundhati Roy

“Terrorism is the symptom, not the disease.” (Arundhati Roy, The End of Imagination) Arundhati Roy is a superhero. She wears a sari instead of a cape. She has written one novel – The God of Small Things – and it won the Booker Prize. She is an award-winning screenwriter and an award-declining dissenter. She is…

“Damnificados” named a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year

This just in from Foreword Reviews: We are pleased to announce Damnificados has been recognized as a finalist in the 19th annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards. As part of their mission to discover, review, and share the best books from small, university, and independent publishers, media company Foreword Reviews hosts its annual…

Tucson Festival of Books 2017

Another year, another blockbuster. Once again I missed out on a couple of big names – Colson Whitehead and Michael McGarrity – but there was plenty of consolation in seeing some lesser-known, bright young (and not-so-young) things. I was really looking forward to seeing Adrienne Celt as she’ll be appearing later this year at the Southwest…

The Black Renaissance

A new Black Renaissance is dawning right now. Our literature is stronger than ever. Those great, great writers who came before us all have their heirs. For James Baldwin, read Ta-Nehisi Coates. For Ralph Ellison, read Colson Whitehead. For Zora Neale Hurston, read Toni Morrison. They aren’t like-for-like, but our modern black writers are hugely…

“American Tumbleweeds” – by Marta Elva

Those of us living on or near the Mexican-American border know the themes by rote. We feel, hear, and see the dichotomies every day: the interplay of Spanish and English; the struggles between the old (Mexican tradition) and the new (North American brutalism); the familial ties loosened in the quest for a better life across…

Margaret Atwood on the role of the artist in testing times

I met Margaret Atwood last year. It was at an author party at the Brooklyn Book Festival.  She appeared to be quite shy – although maybe it was just me boring her to death – and her physical stature was in inverse proportion to her talent. What I’m trying to say is that, for a…

Tribute to writers we lost in 2016

2016 was the year the music stopped. Leonard Cohen, Prince, David Bowie, George Michael – so many songs embedded in our culture, so many that’ll now never be written. It was also a year in which we lost three stellar playwrights: Edward Albee, Arnold Wesker, and Peter Shaffer, whose Equus is my favorite modern play…

Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji released from prison

It’s been a terrible year politically, but finally a bit of good news: Ahmed Naji, who I wrote about here, is free. His treatment was like something out of the Theatre of the Absurd: he was imprisoned for giving a reader palpitations – a thinly veiled excuse for persecuting a critic of the Egyptian government….