Book-log

Jul. 5th, 2011 04:26 pm
anotherusedpage: (literature)
In no particular order:

Ben Aaronovitch - Rivers of London
This is, in fact, by a white heterosexual nondisabled man, as far as I'm aware. I'm glad I read it anyway. Ace London-set Urban fantasy by someone who really knows multiethnic London

Andrew Ramer - Queering the Text
My dad bought me this in a queer bookshop in San Francisco. Oh is made my heart sing. Short stories, I suppose, queer and Jewish and... transformative

Samual R. Delany - Babel 17
I loved this so much. Along with Queering the Text, this is incredible meta, writing about writing, about language and stories and what they do to us, and how we escape them and recreate them. It's also damn good sci fi.

Octavia Butler - Lillith's Brood
I liked this a lot more than Wild Seed. Explorations of sexuality and consent and pleasure, genetics, assimilation and conquest.

Kader Abdolah - The House of the Mosque
This felt like a very different perspective to most of the rest of the Irani authors I've read recently. I felt more than usually adrift in the history, more aware of my own ignorance. When I read Reading Lolita in Tehran, I was really aware that I couldn't resolve the Khomeini described there with this one.

Rebecca Skloot - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
I learned a lot here. White author, very aware she's telling stories that aren't her own.

Katharine Quarmby - Scapegoat: Why We Are Failing Disabled People
This was hard reading. About disability hate crime, and how it differs to other kinds of hate crime. About the historical context of sanctioned hate crimes against disabled people in the form of scapegoats and witch hunts amongst other things. About the failures of our legal system to cope with people with impaired understanding; about fact independence is not the same thing as abandonment. I read it just before watching the Terry Pratchet assisted suicide documentory, and I suspect it coloured my views, because it is absolutely damning about how we as a culture fail to safeguard disabled people; about the contradictions between when we fail people by too much control over their lives, and when we fail them by too little support in their lives.

Nafisi - Reading Lolita in Tehran
It's actually not much of an exageration to say that this book changed me. I read it slowly, it took me weeks, which is unusual for me. And I learned so much about myself as an academic, as a reader. I learned new perspectives on literature I've taken for granted. If I could have read this when I was studying some of this stuff at Oxford (and initially I thought I couldn't because it hadn't been published yet, but no, it was published in 2003), if I had read this when struggling with The Modern Novel - my life in academia would have been completely different. She knows why literature matters. She shows you how even canon literature - even those dead white men - can be made subversive. I have completely revised my opinions on a number of classical novels I know well; Pride and Prejudice and the Great Gatsby, which I hated at A level; which I felt were banal and pointless. And it's not a book of literary criticism, it's an autobiography. It understands, fundamentally, and centralises, the fact that criticism always says as much about the reader and their contexts as anything else. All that, and it's also full of portraits of smart, strong young women, and a complex, oh so complex, understanding of the Islamic revolution in Iran.

*

So I'm getting quite aware that when I just pick up supermarket and WHS books by chromatic authors, what I get is an awful lot of stuff clearly influenced by American/Western preoccupation with the Middle East. Since I started deliberately buying one book by an author of colour for every one book I bought by a white author, I'm aware that's meant four Irani authors (two who live in America, one who lives in France, and one who lives in the Netherlands), two Afghani authors (both of whom live in America), one Pakistani author (who lives in America). I've also read some East Asian stuff I got from [profile] vampire_kitten, some Black American scifi I've deliberately looked out on the internet, and one book by a British Indian writer. Despite actively keeping an eye out, I have not yet managed to casually pick anything by a Black African author.

Still, always, looking for good recs.

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July 2011

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