It weren’t slavery that made me want to be free. It was my heart.
If the cover of The Good Lord Bird did not disclose the author to be James McBride, the reader would think that Mark Twain was the genius behind this novel. Winner of the National Book Award (2013), The Good Lord Bird is the story of the years leading up to the historic raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859 from the perspective of a young boy named Henry Shackleford, who is known throughout the book as Henrietta when he is mistaken as a girl and decides to play the part to save his hide. Read more
Three years ago, I posted a book review of Elie Wiesel’s Night – the story of his family and how the teenage Wiesel survived the Holocaust during World War II. On this July 4th as we celebrate independence and the passing of 87-year old Wiesel just a few days ago, it seems only fitting that we honor a man who spoke out against violence, racism, and repression, told us why we need to stand up to injustices, and how important it is to listen to those with the courage to speak out. With that in mind, the post of Night – one of Wiesel’s most important works – is reprinted below: Read more
Did anyone know what was going on there? Of course they did. They must have.
Kim van Alkemade, a writing professor at the University of Pennsylvania at Shippensburg spent about five years researching and writing her first novel – Orphan #8, the story of Rachel Rabinowitz, a 4-year old orphan sent to live in the Hebrew Infant Home in New York City in 1919. While there, Rachel becomes part of a medical research study in which healthy children (who were dehumanized by being assigned numbers) are x-rayed to see if radiation could provide an alternative to the surgical removal of tonsils. The doctor conducting the study – Dr. Mildred Solomon – is a recent graduate of the male dominated medical school system and an ambitious young doctor who did not adequately weigh the risks or consider the rights of children without a voice. Read more
…when hate and love have together exhausted the soul, the body seldom endures for long.
While scouring the shelves described as “classics” in an independent bookstore (Mac’s Backs-Books on Coventry) in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, I discovered The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis (a poet and writer who lived from 1899-1998). On the back cover of the book were the words: Read more
The more I probed the Bible to arm myself against the doubts of unbelievers, the more distance I discovered between the Jesus of the gospels and the Jesus of history – between Jesus the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan was given to me to read by a Jewish friend, who told me “you have to read this book.” He had recently attended a gathering where the keynote speaker was Reza Aslan – an American-Iranian writer and academic in religious studies and creative writing – and was mesmerized by both the author and the book. Read more
Günter Grass, the German novelist, poet, playwright, artist, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature died yesterday at the age of 87. Last month, a story was posted about Gunter Grass and one of his most controversial poems: What Must Be Said, which is reprinted below:
Grass is best known for his novels including The Tin Drum (1959), Cat and Mouse (1963), Dog Years (1965), and his memoirs: Peeling the Onion (2007), The Box (2010), and Grimm’s Words: A Declaration of Love (2010) but he is also known as the author of the controversial poem What Must Be Said (2012) – which reveals the hypocrisy of the German military when they decided to sell and deliver a submarine that could be used to launch nuclear warheads against Iran. Read more
I’ve been left alone to do my own work, to live my own life. ~Ha Jin
Contemporary Chinese literature is a genre that doesn’t occupy a lot of shelf space in bookstores or on Amazon (only 104 books show up on a recent search) which probably has more to do with repression and censorship than with lack of interest. With nearly 20% of the world’s population (1.5 billion people) in China, there should be an abundance of talented writers whose works are translated and available to the public. Instead, we have but a few writers who’ve escaped from China and been given the freedom to pursue their craft and write without fear of censorship or punishment. Read more
Affection is not only a pleasure for the heart but also a burden which, in proportion to its importance, may oppress the soul quite as much as it rejoices it.
Long before books like Marley or The Art of Racing in the Rain appeared on bookshelves, a book entitled Niki: The Story of a Dog was written in Hungarian by Tibor Déry and published in 1956, shortly before the October Uprising, a nationwide revolt against the Soviet-controlled government in Hungary. In the years following World War II, Hungary underwent massive political changes and it is these changes the reader sees through the eyes of the narrator who tells the story of a middle-aged couple who adopt a street dog named Niki. The story begins in the Spring of 1948 and ends six years later in 1954. Read more