General book blog.

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. New York. 1980. Harper & Row. 0060148039. 614 pages. hardcover.




A People's History of the United States is a 1980 non-fiction book by American historian and political scientist Howard Zinn. In the book, Zinn presented a different side of history from what he considered to be the more traditional "fundamental nationalist glorification of country." Zinn portrays a side of American history that can largely be seen as the exploitation and manipulation of the majority by rigged systems that hugely favor a small aggregate of elite rulers from across the orthodox political parties. A People's History has been assigned as reading in many high schools and colleges across the United States. It has also resulted in a change in the focus of historical work, which now includes stories that previously were ignored. The book was a runner-up in 1980 for the National Book Award. It frequently has been revised, with the most recent edition covering events through 2005. In 2003, Zinn was awarded the Prix des Amis du Monde Diplomatique for the French version of this book Une histoire populaire des Etats-Unis. More than two million copies have been sold. In a 1998 interview, Zinn said he had set "quiet revolution" as his goal for writing A People's History. "Not a revolution in the classical sense of a seizure of power, but rather from people beginning to take power from within the institutions. In the workplace, the workers would take power to control the conditions of their lives." In 2004, Zinn edited a primary source companion volume with Anthony Arnove, entitled Voices of a People's History of the United States. 


Zinn HowardAUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 - January 27, 2010) was an American historian, academic, author, playwright, and social activist. Before and during his tenure as a political science professor at Boston University from 1964-88 he wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United States. He wrote extensively about the civil rights and anti-war movements, as well as of the labor history of the United States. His memoir, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, was also the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn's life and work.









The Soft Voice of the Serpent and Other Stories by Nadine Gordimer. New York. 1952. Simon & Schuster. 245 pages. hardcover. Jacket design By Robins and Eckstein.


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Only a few of Nadine Gordimer's short stories had been published in America at this book's publication - in The New Yorker, The Yale Review, The Virginia Quarterly - but her work has received lavish praise from reviewers across the globe and also in South Africa where she lived and wrote her stories. In this, her first volume of short stories published in the U. S., Nadine Gordimer makes us see and understand the unmistakable setting and origin of her own people - the native servant haunted by ambition to educate her children, the performance of a Wilde play before a stunned audience of Bantu people. Though the details and the human material are, in most cases, clearly South African in origin, yet always the people who are brought to sudden, startling life are universal. We may encounter them, their problems, and the incidents that form the pattern of their lives almost anywhere. One powerful theme runs through all Miss Gordimer's stories: the sense that people's exteriors, their faces, expressions, utterances, are totally unrevealing of the real persons beneath. The story ‘In the Beginning' is especially characteristic. Scott Fitzgerald have said, ‘We are all queer fish; queerer behind our faces and voices than we want anyone to know, or than we know ourselves.' Miss Gordimer has a directly opposite point of view. She thinks the outside is queer and unfriendly and putting-off. Underneath we are all more likable, more sensitive to each other than we know. Miss Gordimer has the gift of revealing through trifles. She is the roving camera that preserves and records much that is invisible to the average naked eye. And under her fearless guidance, a little more is added to our meager knowledge of the human heart. The short stories include: Is There Nowhere Else We Can Meet; The Soft Voice of the Serpent; Ah Woe Is Me; The Catch; The Train from Rhodesia; A Bit of Young Life; Six Feet of the Country; Which New Era Would That Be; Enemies; Happy Event; The Smell of Death and Flowers; Friday's Footprint; The Night the Favourite Came Home; The Bridegroom; The Last Kiss; The Gentle Art; Something for the Time Being; A Company of Laughing Faces; Not for Publication; A Chip of Glass Ruby; Good Climate Friendly Inhabitants; The African Magician; Some Monday for Sure; Abroad; Livingstone's Companions; An Intruder; Open House; Rain Queen; No Place Like; The Life of the Imagination; and Africa Emergent. 

Gordimer NadineAUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Nadine Gordimer (20 November 1923 - 13 July 2014) was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a woman "who through her magnificent epic writing has - in the words of Alfred Nobel - been of very great benefit to humanity". Gordimer's writing dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. Under that regime, works such as Burger's Daughter and July's People were banned. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress during the days when the organization was banned, and gave Nelson Mandela advice on his famous 1964 defence speech at the trial which led to his conviction for life. She was also active in HIV/AIDS causes.










Gemini: An Extended Autobiographical Statement on My First Twenty-Five Years of Being a Black Poet by Nikki Giovanni. Indianapolis. 1971. Bobbs-Merrill. 149 pages. hardcover. 


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A young poet attuned to the social problems of contemporary living reveals her thoughts on the black experience in America. In the lyrical, irreverent, and tough-talking voice that resounds in her poetry, Nikki Giovanni explores one of the most tumultuous periods of our history. Her essays take us from her childhood in Knoxville, Tennessee, through her work in the militant Black revolution of the sixties, to her emergence as an acclaimed poet. Interweaving warm recollections of her personal history -- the enduring strengths of her family, the birth of her child, the rewards of writing -- with incisive vignettes of cultural and political history, including her often surprising opinions of LeRoi Jones, Angela Davis, Lena Horne, Stokeley Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, and many others. Giovanni chronicles the changing moods of society as she reveals the inner and outer worlds of a Black woman in twentieth-century America. 



Giovanni NikkiAUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Nikki Giovanni (born June 7, 1943), one of America's most widely read living poets, has earned a reputation for being outspoken and controversial - mostly because she always speaks her mind. She entered the literary world at the height of the Black Arts Movement and quickly achieved not simple fame but stardom. A recording of her poems was one of the best-selling albums in the country; all but one of her nearly twenty books are still in print with several having sold more than a hundred thousand copies. Named woman of the year by three different magazines, including Ebony, and recipient of a host of honorary doctorates and awards, Nikki Giovanni has read from her work and lectured at colleges around the country. Her books include BLACK FEELING, BLACK TALK/BLACK JUDGEMENT; MY HOUSE; THE WOMEN AND THE MEN; COTTON CANDY ON A RAINY DAY; THOSE WHO RIDE THE NIGHT WINDS; and SACRED COWS. . . AND OTHER EDIBLES. Nikki Giovanni is a professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic.










Industrial Park by Patrícia Galvão. Lincoln. 1993. University of Nebraska Press. 0803221479. Translated from the Portuguese Elizabeth and K. David Jackson. 153 pages. hardcover.


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A member of Brazil's avant-garde in its heyday. Patrícia Galvão (or to use her nickname, Pagu) was extraordinary. Not only was her work among the most exciting and innovative published in the 1930s, it was unique in portraying an avant-garde woman's view of women in Sao Paulo during that audacious period. Industrial Park, first published in 1933, is Galvão's most notable literary achieve-ment. Like Döblin's portrayal of Berlin in Alexanderplatz or Biely's St Petersburg, it is a book about the voices, clashes, and traffic of a city in the middle of rapid change. It includes fragments of public documents as well as dialogue and narration, giving a panorama of the city in a sequence of colorful slices. The novel dramatizes the problems of exploitation, poverty, racial prejudice, prostitution, state repression, and neocolonialism, but it is by no means a doctrinaire tract. Galvão's ironic wit pervades the novel, aspiring not only to describe the teeming city but also to put art and politics in each other's service. Like many of her contemporaries Galvão was a member of the Brazilian Communist Party. She attracted Party criticism for her unorthodox behavior and outspokenness. A visit to Moscow in 1934 disenchanted her with the communist state, but she continued to militate for change upon returning to Brazil. She was imprisoned and tortured under the Vargas dictatorship between 1935 and 1940. In the 1940s she returned to the public through her journalism and literary activities. She died in 1962.


Galvao PatriciaAUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Patrícia Rehder Galvão , known by the pseudonym Pagu (São João da Boa Vista, June 9, 1910 - Santos , December 12, 1962) was a writer, poet, theater director, translator, and journalist. A member of Brazil's avant-garde in its heyday. Patrícia Galvão (or to use her nickname, Pagu) was extraordinary. Not only was her work among the most exciting and innovative published in the 1930s, it was unique in portraying an avant-garde woman's view of women in Sao Paulo during that audacious period. Like many of her contemporaries Galvão was a member of the Brazilian Communist Party. She attracted Party criticism for her unorthodox behavior and outspokenness. A visit to Moscow in 1934 disenchanted her with the communist state, but she continued to militate for change upon returning to Brazil. She was imprisoned and tortured under the Vargas dictatorship between 1935 and 1940. In the 1940s she returned to the public through her journalism and literary activities. She died in 1962.











Why I Can't Read Wallace Stegner and Other Essays: A Tribal Voice by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Madison. 1997. University of Wisconsin Press. 0299151409. 172 pages. hardcover. 


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This provocative collection of essays reveals the passionate voice of a Native American feminist intellectual. Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, a poet and literary scholar, grapples with issues she encountered as a Native-American in academia. She asks questions of critical importance to tribal people: who is telling their stories, where does cultural authority lie, and most important, how is it possible to develop an authentic tribal literary voice within the academic community? 


Cook Lynn ElizabethAUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Elizabeth Cook-Lynn (born 1930 in Fort Thompson, South Dakota) is a Crow Creek Lakota Sioux editor, essayist, poet, novelist, and academic, whose trenchant views on Native American politics, particularly tribal sovereignty, have caused controversy. Cook-Lynn co-founded Wícazo Ša Review (‘Red Pencil'), an academic journal devoted to the development of Native American studies as an academic discipline. She retired from her long academic career at Eastern Washington University in 1993, returning to her home in Rapid City, South Dakota. She has held several visiting professorships since retirement. In 2009, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas.










The Nine Guardians by Rosario Castellanos. New York. 1960. Vanguard. Translated from the Spanish by Irene Nicholson. 272 pages. hardcover.


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This haunting and moving novel was voted the best work of fiction the year it was published in Mexico. In it Rosario Castellanos combines the myth of the nine ancient Mayan villages Southern Mexico with the reality of a modern Indian uprising during the time of the agra- reforms instituted by President Cardenas. Only a native Mexican could interpret with such sensitivity and strength both the dignity and revolt of the Indians and the graciousness and traditions of the landed families. Across the panorama of a disintegrating culture move these memorable characters: the bewildered landowner, Don Cesar, who pits his will against the rising forces of change; Nana, the devout nurse, warm in her affection, strict in her observance of custom; Mario, an inquisitive boy with the inimitable charm of breeding, part of the peesent but formed by the past; Ernesto, Don CeEsar's bastard nephew, surging with conflict and indecision; Matilde, a sex-starved half cousin; Juana, the wife of the Indian rebel; Felipe, leader of the insurgents, loyal and rigid as the dry earth. Though set in a remote district of Mexico, THE NINE GUARDIANS is a universal novel. Its human problems, its pathos, its tenderness, its conflicts are known to all peoples in all parts of the world. And they are interpreted with a lyric yet earthy quality as vivid as that of Conrad Richter or Willa Cather. ROSARIO CASTELLANOS is one of a group of young Mexican writers whose works are being more and more widely acclaimed beyond their native land. The young author of the prize-winning THE NINE GUARDIANS is at once novelist, poet, and philosopher, and the present novel is a fine testament to her skill and insight in all three fields. As a child, Miss Castellanos knew intimately the background she describes. Later she traveled widely in Europe as well as in the Americas. Her experiences are reflected in THE NINE GUARDIANS, which, though intensely Mexican in character, has within it a universality of understanding and feeling that appeals to the minds and hearts of readers everywhere. (original title: Balun-Canan, 1957 - Fondo de Cultura Economica, Mexico City).


Castellanos RosarioAUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Rosario Castellanos (25 May 1925 - 7 August 1974) was a Mexican poet and author. Along with the other members of the Generation of 1950 (the poets who wrote following the Second World War, influenced by Cesar Vallejo and others), she was one of Mexico's most important literary voices in the last century. Throughout her life, she wrote eloquently about issues of cultural and gender oppression, and her work has influenced feminist theory and cultural studies. Though she died young, she opened the door of Mexican literature to women, and left a legacy that still resonates today.









A Street in Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks. New York. 1945. Harper & Brothers. 57 pages. hardcover.


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In these poems of contemporary Negro life a new and talented young writer relates with sincerity, perception and stunning power her feelings about her people. A Street in Bronzeville is the collected impression of the small, everyday matters which make up the substance of experience in a large city - the poignant illumination of a Negro Sunday with its small possible pleasures, its isolation, the turning to one another; the people of the city - Satin-Legs Smith, the genial man about town, the queen of the blues, the modest madonna of the inviolate breasts whose man no longer comes to call. There are the sharply etched impressions of a Bronzeville street - the preacher behind his sermon, the hunchback girl who thinks of heaven, the memories of a vacant lot, the huddled life of a kitchenette. Here are poems in ballad form, displaying the author's versatility in mood and metre. Here are vivid comments on Army life in which the author shows her ability to handle thoughtfully and clearly a further aspect of American Negro experience. In this, her first book, Gwendolyn Brooks proves herself an accomplished artist. She is never sentimental, never obvious, but maintains a standard of sincerity and perception of skillful integration of mood and expression not often found among contemporary poets. Her poetry has the true flavor of Negro life and at the same time its meaning is associated with the whole content of experience in this country. Richard Wright has written of her work: ‘She is a real poet. There is no self-pity here, nor a striving for effects. She takes hold of reality as it is and renders it faithfully. . . . She easily catches the pathos of petty destinies; the whimper of the wounded; the tiny accidents that plague the lives of the desperately poor and the problem of color prejudice.' William Rose BenEt wrote: ‘A Street in Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks is the work of a remarkable young poet. Her book, throughout has dramatic vigor and unusually expressive phrase. Miss Brooks is as originals as dynamic as Langston Hughes. She is saliently individual.' 


Brooks GwendolynAUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, and was educated at the Englewood High School and Wilson Junior College in Chicago. Living in Chicago since early childhood she has watched the life of her people there and has reflected it in her poems which have appeared an magazines like The Negro Quarterly, Poetry, Common Ground, Harper's and the New York Herald Tribune.










Frye Street & Environs: The Collected Works of Marita Bonner by Marita Bonner. Boston. 1987. Beacon Press. 0807063002. Edited and introduced by Joyce Flynn and Joyce Occomy Stricklin. 286 pages. hardcover. Jacket illustration by Aaron Douglas, Song of the Towers, 1934.




Marita Bonner (1899-1971), prize-winning author of short stories, plays, and essays, is virtually unknown today. Born and educated in Boston and Cambridge, a writer and member of Georgia Douglas Johnson's "S" Street Salon in Washington, D.C., and a teacher, wife, and mother in Chicago, Bonner is one of America's most vital twentieth-century black writers. Here for the first time in book form are her collected works. Bonner's stories, essays, and plays, many of which were originally published in the black magazines "Crisis" and "Opportunity" between 1925 and 1941, describe black working-class life in Chicago. The setting is Frye Street, Bonner's fictional neighborhood, a melting pot where many different ethnic groups struggle to survive in the face of extreme poverty, racism, and violence. Listen to how she evokes the atmosphere of the place in the story "Nothing New": "You have been down on Frye Street. You know how it runs... from freckled-faced tow heads to yellow Orientals; from broad Italy to broad Georgia, from hooked nose to square black noses. How it lisps in French, how it babbles in Italian, how it gurgles in German, how it drawls and crawls through the Black Belt dialects. Frye Street flows nicely together. It is like muddy water. Like muddy water in a brook." "Frye Street and Environs" is a rich and rewarding collection. Opening with two essays, the most famous of which is the poignant autobiographical "One Being Young--a Woman--and Colored," the book also contains three plays and 22 short stories. "The Purple Flower," an experimental dramatic allegory about the back quest for freedom and happiness in the post-Emancipation U.S., is probably the best know of her plays. Her short stories--works like "The Prison-Bound," "Drab Rambles," "Tin Can," "The Makin's," and "Hate Is Nothing"--offer an extraordinary glimpse into the lives of working-class blacks, exploring the interlocking themes of color prejudice, alienation of the Southern black migrant, ethnic clashes, tensions in interracial romance, the psychological devastation of racism, poverty, thwarted ambition, and the problems of black female aspiration. "There is only one Frye Street," wrote Marita Bonner, but "all the world is there." Until now, Bonner's fictional universe has been known to only a select few. With the publication of "Frye Street and Environs," her audience will grow as many readers encounter for the first time the thoughts and passions of the people in this unforgettable neighborhood.


Bonner MaritaAUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Marita Bonner (June 16, 1899 - December 7, 1971), also known as Marieta Bonner, was an American writer, essayist, and playwright who is commonly associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Other names she went by were Marita Occomy, Marita Odette Bonner, Marita Odette Bonner Occomy, Marita Bonner Occomy, and Joseph Maree Andrew. On December 29, 1921, along with 15 other women, she chartered the Iota chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Marita Bonner was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Joseph and Anne Noel Bonner. Marita was one of four children and was brought up in a middle-class community in Massachusetts. She attended Brookline High School, where she contributed to the school magazine, The Sagamore. She excelled in German and Music, and was a very talented pianist. In 1917, she graduated from Brookline High School and in 1918 enrolled in Radcliffe College, commuting to campus because many African-American students were denied dormitory accommodation. In college, she majored in English and Comparative Literature, while continuing to study German and musical composition. At Radcliffe, African-American students were not permitted to board, and many either lived in houses off-campus set aside for black students, or commuted, as Bonner did. Bonner was an accomplished student at Radcliffe, founding the Radcliffe chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, a black sorority, and participating in many musical clubs (she twice won the Radcliffe song competition). She was also accepted to a competitive writing class that was open to 16 students, where her professor, Charles Townsend Copeland, encouraged her not to be "bitter" when writing, a descriptor often used for authors of color. In addition to her studies, she taught at a high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After finishing her schooling in 1922, she continued to teach at Bluefield Colored Institute in West Virginia. Two years later, she took on a position at Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C., until 1930, during which time her mother and father both died suddenly. While in Washington, Bonner became closely associated with poet, playwright and composer Georgia Douglas Johnson. Johnson's "S Street salon" was an important meeting place for many of the writers and artists involved in the New Negro Renaissance. While living in Washington D.C., Bonner met William Almy Occomy. They married and moved to Chicago, where Bonner's writing career took off. After marrying Occomy, she began to write under her married name. After 1941, Bonner gave up publishing her works and devoted her time to her family, including three children. She began teaching again in the 1940s and finally retired in 1963. Bonner died on December 7, 1971, from smoke-inhalation complications at a hospital after her apartment caught fire. She was 73.










Underground River and Other Stories by Ines Arredondo. Lincoln. 1996. University Of Nebraska Press. 0803210345. Foreword by Elena Poniatowska. Translated from the Spanish by Cynthia Steele. 128 pages. hardcover.


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Ines Arredondo (1928-1989) published just three slim volumes of stories over twenty-three years, yet her reputation as a great writer, 'a necessary writer', is firmly established in Mexico. Her works dwell on obsessions: erotic love, evil, purity, perversion, prostitution, tragic separation, and death. Most of her characters are involved in ill-fated searches for the Absolute through both excessively passionate and sadomasochistic relationships. Inevitably, the perfect, pure dyad of two youthful lovers is interrupted or corrupted through the interference of a third party (a rival lover or a child), aging, death, or public morality. Set at the beginning of the twentieth century in the tropical northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa, the stories collected in "Underground River and Other Stories" focus on female subjectivity. Arredondo's adult male characters are often predators, depraved collectors of adolescent virgins, like the plantation owners in "The Nocturnal Butterflies" and "Shadows in the Shadows" and the dying uncle in "The Shunammite", who is kept alive by incestuous lust. Since the young female protagonists rarely have fathers to protect them, the only thing standing between them and these lechers are older women. Perversely, these older women act as accomplices-along with the extended family and the Roman Catholic Church-in the sordid age-old traffic in women. "Underground River and Other Stories" is the first appearance of Arredondo's stories in English. Cynthia Steele is an associate professor of Romance languages at the University of Washington and the author of "Politics, Gender, and the Mexican Novel", "1968-1988: Beyond the Pyramid". Elena Poniatowska, who helped Steele choose these stories, is one of the most renowned of Mexico's new generation of writers. Among her works translated into English are "Frida Kahlo: The Camera Seduced", "Massacre in Mexico", and "Dear Diego". CONTENTS: Introduction by Cynthia Steele; Foreword by Elena Poniatowska; The Shunammite; Mariana; The Sign; New Year's Eve; Underground River; The Silent Words; Orphanhood; The Nocturnal Butterfly; The Brothers; The Mirrors; On Love; Shadow in the Shadows.


Arredondo InesAUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Ines Arredondo (1928-1989) was the most important Mexican woman short-story writer of the twentieth century. She published just three slim volumes of stories over a period of twenty-three years, yet her reputation as a great writer, ‘a necessary writer,' is firmly established in Mexico. Her works dwell on a few central obsessions: erotic love, evil, purity, perversion, prostitution, tragic separation, and death. Most of her characters are involved in ill-fated searches for the absolute, through both excessively passionate and sadomasochistic relationships. Inevitably the perfect, pure dyad of two youthful lovers is interrupted or corrupted, through the interference of a third party (a rival lover or a child - ‘Great lovers don't have children'), aging, death, or public morality (in the cases of incest and homosexuality). Time and again, excess - whether of love, passion, possessiveness, or narcissism-has tragic consequences for both the lovers and the innocent people around them. Arredondo wrote sparingly, publishing little more than thirty short stories in twenty-three years. She once told an interviewer that she waited for the holy ghost to spit on her as a sign that she should write a new story; but since he was a ghost, he didn't have much saliva. She told me that one of her most enigmatic stories, ‘The Brothers,' a dreamlike reflection on passion, female virginity, and male honor, was dictated to her by a voice in the shower. ‘Shadow in the Shadows,' in which she explored every conceivable sort of sexual perversion in order to demonstrate the impossibility of distinguishing between purity and prostitution, came to her as she sat sipping coffee under the arches on the idyllic main plaza in Oaxaca. Despite the brevity of Arredondo's work, her elegant, crystalline style and her disturbing, highly original vision of the human condition, and of gender and power relations in northern Mexico at the beginning of the twentieth century, establish her as one of contemporary Mexico's most significant authors.









The Dilemma of a Ghost by Christina Ama Ata Aidoo. New York. 1971. Collier/Macmillan. Introduction by Karen C. Chapman. 93 pages. paperback. 01202.


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Ato Yawson, a young Ghanaian educated in the United States, returns home with his strong-willed Harlem-born wife, Eulalie, whom he married without telling his tradition-conscious family. Ato, in his ambivalence between twentieth-century black America and his African heritage, attempts to bridge the two worlds. Eulalie, bringing with her dreams of "belonging" to a heroic, hallowed land, painfully discovers that Africa is not all colorful birds and peaceful rhythms of deep, mysterious rivers. In these immediate clashes between the tribe and the individual, the “primitive” and the modern, Ato and Eulalie confront barriers and obstacles which time, custom, and culture have made nearly Aidoo Ama Ata insurmountable. The Dilemma of a Ghost is a play classic in its dramatic construction, heeding all the principles of tragedy while going beyond the rise and fall of a single tragic hero to include the tragedy of community and culture unable to change or to understand.



AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, nee Christina Ama Aidoo (born 23 March 1940, Saltpond) is a Ghanaian author, playwright and academic.









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