General book blog.

Jetnil-Kijiner, Kathy. Iep Jaltok: Poems From a Marshallese Daughter. Tucson. 2017. University of Arizona Press. 9780816534029. 6 x 9. Sun Tracks. 90 pages. paperback. 


9780816534029FROM THE PUBLISHER -


As the seas rise, the fight intensifies to save the Pacific Ocean’s Marshall Islands from being devoured by the waters around them. At the same time, activists are raising their poetic voices against decades of colonialism, environmental destruction, and social injustice. Marshallese poet and activist Kathy Jetn¯il-Kijiner’s writing highlights the traumas of colonialism, racism, forced migration, the legacy of American nuclear testing, and the impending threats of climate change. Bearing witness at the front lines of various activist movements inspires her work and has propelled her poetry onto international stages, where she has performed in front of audiences ranging from elementary school students to more than a hundred world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit. The poet connects us to Marshallese daily life and tradition, likening her poetry to a basket and its essential materials. Her cultural roots and her family provides the thick fiber, the structure of the basket. Her diasporic upbringing is the material which wraps around the fiber, an essential layer to the structure of her experiences. And her passion for justice and change, the passion which brings her to the front lines of activist movements—is the stitching that binds these two experiences together. Iep Jaltok will make history as the first published book of poetry written by a Marshallese author, and it ushers in an important new voice for justice. 'A book to be read slowly. Savored. Admired for its precision of language and emotion.' - ALICE WALKER. 'This intriguing collection provides a Marshallese perspective on contemporary life, family, politics of land tenure, indigenous rights, and a troubled and troubling American history in the Pacific.' - HEID E. ERDRICH. 'In this stunning debut collection, Kathy Jetn¯il-Kijiner weaves a basket of poems that carry the beauty, depth, and resiliency of her Marshallese culture. Through lyrical, narrative, and visual modes, the poet gives voice to how nuclear testing, migration, racism, and climate change have impacted her family and her people. At the same time, she offers a vision of hope that the future will be a place in which our children—and humanity itself—will thrive.' —CRAIG SANTOS PEREZ.


Jetnil Kijiner KathyKATHY JETNIL-KIJINER is a Marshallese writer. She is co-founder of the nonprofit organization Jo-Jikum, which empowers youth to work toward solutions on environmental issues threatening their home islands.








Graeber, David. The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy. Brooklyn/London. 2015. Melville House. 9781612193748. 261 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Christopher King.  


9781612193748FROM THE PUBLISHER -


From the author of the international bestseller Debt: The First 5,000 Years comes a revelatory account of the way bureaucracy rules our lives. Where does the desire for endless rules, regulations, and bureaucracy come from? How did we come to spend so much of our time filling out forms? And is it really a cipher for state violence? To answer these questions, the anthropologist David Graeber—one of our most important and provocative thinkers—traces the peculiar and unexpected ways we relate to bureaucracy today, and reveals how it shapes our lives in ways we may not even notice…though he also suggests that there may be something perversely appealing—even romantic—about bureaucracy. Leaping from the ascendance of right-wing economics to the hidden meanings behind Sherlock Holmes and Batman, The Utopia of Rules is at once a powerful work of social theory in the tradition of Foucault and Marx, and an entertaining reckoning with popular culture that calls to mind Slavoj Zizek at his most accessible. An essential book for our times, The Utopia of Rules is sure to start a million conversations about the institutions that rule over us—and the better, freer world we should, perhaps, begin to imagine for ourselves.



Graeber DavidDavid Rolfe Graeber (February 12, 1961 – September 2, 2020) was an American anthropologist, anarchist activist, and author known for his books Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011), The Utopia of Rules (2015) and Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (2018). He was a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics. As an assistant and later associate professor of anthropology at Yale University from 1998 to 2007, Graeber specialized in theories of value and social theory. Yale's decision not to rehire him when he would otherwise have become eligible for tenure sparked an academic controversy. He went on to become, from 2007 to 2013, reader in social anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His activism included protests against the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, and at the 2002 World Economic Forum in New York City. Graeber was a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is sometimes credited with having coined the slogan "We are the 99%". He accepted credit for the description "the 99%" but said that others had expanded it into the slogan.





Didion, Joan. Where I Was From. New York. 2003. Knopf. 0679433325. 229 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Carol Devine Carson. 




In her moving and insightful new book, Joan Didion reassesses parts of her life, her work, her history and ours. A native Californian, Didion applies her scalpel-like intelligence to the state's ethic of ruthless self-sufficiency in order to examine that ethic's often tenuous relationship to reality. Combining history and reportage, memoir and literary criticism, Where I Was From explores California's romances with land and water; its unacknowledged debts to railroads, aerospace, and big government; the disjunction between its code of individualism and its fetish for prisons. Whether she is writing about her pioneer ancestors or privileged sexual predators, robber barons or writers (not excluding herself), Didion is an unparalleled observer, and her book is at once intellectually provocative and deeply personal.



Didion JoanJoan Didion (December 5, 1934 – December 23, 2021) was an American writer. Her career began in the 1950s after she won an essay contest sponsored by Vogue magazine. Her writing during the 1960s through the late 1970s engaged audiences in the realities of the counterculture of the 1960s and the Hollywood lifestyle. Her political writing often concentrated on the subtext of political and social rhetoric. In 1991, she wrote the earliest mainstream media article to suggest the Central Park Five had been wrongfully convicted. In 2005, she won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for The Year of Magical Thinking. She later adapted the book into a play, which premiered on Broadway in 2007. In 2013, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. Didion was profiled in the Netflix documentary The Center Will Not Hold, directed by her nephew Griffin Dunne, in 2017.





Di Benedetto, Antonio. The Silentiary. New York. 2022. New York Review of Books. 9781681375625. Translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen. Introduction by Juan Jose Saer. 166 pages. paperback. Cover image: Joaquin Torres-Garcia, ‘Composition’, 1931. Cover design: Katy Homans.  


9781681375625FROM THE PUBLISHER -


In post-WWII South America, a struggling writer embarks on a murderous thought experiment to help kickstart his career in this next tale of longing from the author of Zama. The Silentiary takes place in a nameless Latin American city during the early 1950s. A young man employed in middle management entertains an ambition to write a book of some sort. But first he must establish the necessary precondition, which the crowded and noisily industrialized city always denies him, however often he and his mother and wife move in search of it. He thinks of embarking on his writing career with something simple, a detective novel, and ponders the possibility of choos- ing a victim among the people he knows and planning a crime as if he himself were the killer. That way, he hopes, his book might finally begin to take shape. The Silentiary, along with Zama and The Suicides, is one of the three thematically linked novels by Di Benedetto that have come to be known as the Trilogy of Expectation, after the dedication "To the victims of expectation" in Zama. Together they constitute, in Juan José Saer's words, "one of the culminating moments of twentieth-century narrative fiction in Spanish."
Antonio di Benedetto (2 November 1922 in Mendoza – 10 October 1986 in Buenos Aires) was an Argentine journalist and writer.


Di Benedetto AntonioDi Benedetto began writing and publishing stories in his teens, inspired by the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Luigi Pirandello. Mundo Animal, appearing in 1952, was his first story collection and won prestigious awards. A revised version came out in 1971, but the Xenos Books translation uses the first edition to catch the youthful flavor. Antonio di Benedetto wrote five novels, the most famous being the existential masterpiece Zama (1956). El Silenciero (The Silencer, 1964) is noteworthy for expressing his intense abhorrence of noise. Critics have compared his works to Alain Robbe-Grillet, Julio Cortázar and Ernesto Sábato. In 1976, during the military dictatorship of General Videla, di Benedetto was imprisoned and tortured. Released a year later, he went into exile in Spain, then returned home in 1984. He travelled widely and won numerous awards, but never acquired the worldwide fame of other Latin American writers, perhaps because his work was not translated to many languages. Esther Allen has translated Javier Marías, Jorge Luis Borges, Felisberto Hernández, Flaubert, Rosario Castellanos, Blaise Cendrars, Marie Darrieussecq, and José Martí. She currently teaches at Baruch College (CUNY) and has directed the work of the PEN Translation Fund since its founding in 2003. Allen has received a Fulbright Grant and two National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships, and in 2006 was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.





The three Commissioner Jan Argond mysteries of Julian Rathbone:


Rathbone, Julian. The Euro-Killers. New York. 1980. Pantheon Books. 0394509021. 256 pages. hardcover. Jacket illustration by Stanislaw Zagorski. 




Julian Rathbone, whose many detective stories have been highly praised, and whose historical novel, JOSEPH, has just been nominated for Britain’s prestigious Booker prize, turns in this book to a totally new genre. He has written a genuinely intriguing political thriller that deserves the comparisons to Sjowall and Wahloo that are bound to be made. Wolfgang Herm, wealthy and brilliant creator of multinational EUREAC, disappears on the eve of the fulfillment of a project that threatens one of the last patches of wilderness in the coastal fens of northern Europe. Argand, the honest police commissioner, investigates. Not one but two ransom demands are delivered; sudden death and assassination follow; and through the widening confusion that includes demonstrations, urban terrorism, and even a football riot, we glimpse, in the final denouement, an abyss of greed and corruption. With deadly conviction Julian Rathbone exposes some of the forces and contradictions which threaten Western society, and the puny resistance of the unorganized few who care—eco-freaks, drop-outs, and ordinary men and women of good will. The result is a taut, suspense-filled novel which will add to Rathbone’s reputation as a writer who produces splendid entertainment, yet who demands to be taken seriously.



0394509110Rathbone, Julian. Base Case. New York. 1981. Pantheon Books. 0394509110. 189 pages. hardcover. Jacket illustration by Amy Rowen. 


Still convalescent from mental illness induced by his last assignment, Jan Argand, the ‘Honest Commissioner’ from Brabt, is sent to the Virtue Islands to advise on security for IBOBRAS, a Spanish-based construction firm contracted by the Americans to build a nuclear base there. A device explodes uncomfortably near him at Madrid airport, and on reaching Santa Caridad, Argand discovers that his document case has been switched for one containing six kilos of heroin. Convinced that he is to be killed, or at least framed, he sets out to track down his enemies and unwittingly stumbles into a web of intrigue and corruption, involving local government officials, wealthy industrialists, a highly successful gem dealer and even a couple of participants in a literary congress, whose events curiously overlap with Argand’s activities. In this sequel to THE EURO-KILLERS, which was acclaimed by Professor Winks of Yale as one of the most historically important thrillers ever written, Julian Rathbone excels again at combining a taut, exciting plot with serious topical issues, not the least of which are those that arise when a community is asked to support the nuclear weapons of a superpower. In the age of the cruise missile, BASE CASE may prove closer to home than the exotic Virtue Islands where it is set.



0394532813Rathbone, Julian. Watching the Detectives. New York. 1984. Pantheon Books. 0394532813. 232 pages. hardcover. Jacket illustration by Susannah Kelly. 


Commissioner Jan Argond of Brabt, whose integrity has so often embarrassed his superiors, now heads the Bureau of Advice and Investigation, set up to handle complaints against the police themselves. His initial inquiries uncover a series of disturbing cases of police brutality, racism, and harassment of homosexuals. Mysteriously though, many of the complaints are withdrawn, and Argand gradually realizes that suspicions he had originally dismissed as products of his own paranoia point to a depth of governmental deception almost too bitter for him to accept. The plot widens to include an extreme left-wing group that may harbor terrorists; a vast antinuclear demonstration that turns into a near massacre when State Troopers move in; the murder of one of Argand’s own team; and an attempt on the life of Argand himself. WATCHING THE DETECTIVES is a highly topical and possibly prophetic novel. Interweaving the most urgent political concerns of Europe and the United States with his usual skill and convincing subtlety, Rathbone has written a gripping story of a nation’s, and an individual’s, response to a potently unexpected threat. This is a distinguished successor to Rathbone’s two previous Argand novels, the EURO-KILLERS and BASE CASE.



Rathbone JulianJulian Christopher Rathbone (10 February 1935 – 28 February 2008) was an English novelist. Various threads run through Rathbone's novels over their forty-year span. Standing firmly in the 19th Century tradition with its belief in the primacy of the writer's imagination and its consequent freedom to explore human life in all its aspects, Rathbone always refused to be tied to a single genre, time or place or character in undertaking this exploration.









Greene, Graham. Journey Without Maps. Garden City. 1936. Doubleday Doran. 310 pages. hardcover. 


journey without maps doubleday doran 1936FROM THE PUBLISHER -


His mind crowded with vivid images of Africa, Graham Greene set off in 1935 to discover Liberia, a remote and unfamiliar republic founded for released slaves. JOURNEY WITHOUT MAPS is the spellbinding record of Greene's journey. Crossing the red-clay terrain from Sierra Leone to the coast of Grand Bassa with a chain of porters, he came to know one of the few areas of Africa untouched by colonization. Western civilization had not yet impinged on either the human psyche or the social structure, and neither poverty, disease, nor hunger seemed able to quell the native spirit.





For another prespective on that trip:


Greene, Barbara. Land Benighted. London. 1938. Geoffrey Bles. 205 pages. hardcover.


land benighted geoffrey bles 1938 no dwFROM THE PUBLISHER -


At his brother Hugh's wedding in October 1934, Greene had drunkenly persuaded Barbara to go with him on a trip to Liberia. Armed with a copy of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, Graham set off with Barbara on a cargo boat from London. Journey Without Maps, his account of their west African adventure, ranks as one of the great travel books of the 20th century. Barbara wrote her own account of their trip, entitled Land Benighted. Many consider it a masterpiece of comic observation and mock-heroic misadventure. Privately, Greene thought Barbara’s account superior to his own.






Greene Barbara


Henry Graham Greene (2 October 1904 – 3 April 1991) was an English novelist and author regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Combining literary acclaim with widespread popularity, Greene had acquired a reputation early in his own lifetime as a great writer, both of serious Catholic novels and of thrillers (or 'entertainments ' as he termed them); however, even though shortlisted in 1967, he was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Through 67 years of writings which included over 25 novels, he explored the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world through a Catholic perspective. Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a Roman Catholic novelist rather than as a novelist who happened to be Catholic, Catholic religious themes are at the root of much of his writing, especially the four major Catholic novels: Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair; which are regarded as 'the gold standard' of the Catholic novel. Several works such as The Confidential Agent, The Third Man, The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana and The Human Factor also show an avid interest in the workings of international politics and espionage. 



Barbara Greene was born in 1907 into an environment of great affluence, made possible by her millionaire father, a hugely successful commodity broker known as Eppy, who built his fortune trading coffee in Brazil. She did not study at university, instead deciding to become a nurse. Following her trip to Liberia with her cousin Graham, Barbara found herself trapped in Berlin during World War II, as the fiancée of an aristocratic German diplomat. To survive she skivvied as a char, protected by a family friend, Paul Schmidt, who happened to be Hitler’s long-standing interpreter.





Njau, Rebeka. Ripples in the Pool. Nairobi. 1975. Transafrica Publishers. 162 pages. paperback. 


ripples in the pool transafrica publishers 1975FROM THE PUBLISHER -


RIPPLES IN THE POOL is the first novel of an exceptionally gifted and articulate writer. Selina, the heroine, whose early upbringing is ominously clouded in mystery, becomes disillusioned with the artificial glitter and superficiality of the sick urban society in which she has-spent the prime of her life. She plans to resolve her alienation by reassimilating into the rural background of her childhood. But her attempt to find peace of mind in a new identity is foredoomed. She is fatally flawed and her machinations end in tragedy for herself and many of those with whom her life has become inextricably involved. But the unusual, exciting and readable plot is only part of the literary contribution of this book. The characters, who span the whole tapestry of rural life in Africa. are portrayed with a depth and spicy richness that illuminates with shocking clarity aspects of rural society heretofore largely unexplored by African writers. Brooding over the whole story is the pervasive symbolism of the pool and the strange old man who guards not only, one feels, its sombre secrets but also the integrity of the land and its people. Defiled by Selina and the amoral modernity that she had embraced, ultimately the pool apparently triumphs in her personal annihilation and the total rejection of all she stands for. Or does it?



Njau RebekaRebeka Njau (born 1932) is a Kenyan educator, writer and textile artist. She also writes under the name Marina Gashe. Alex Wanjala has said: "Like Grace Ogot, Rebeka Njau is a very important writer in Kenya.... She addresses issues that affect women directly and then demonstrates how women’s issues are symptomatic of a malaise in the larger Kenyan society." According to John Mugubi of Kenyatta University, "The uniqueness and power of Rebeka’s style cannot be understated. She has a penchant for subversion of literary conventions in order to drive points home." She was born in Kanyariri in the Kiambu district, attended high school in Nairobi and studied education at Makerere University College in Uganda. She was a founder of Nairobi Girls Secondary School and served as headmistress from 1965 to 1966. Her one-act play The Scar (1965), which condemns female genital mutilation, was first published in the journal Transition in 1963 and is considered to be the first play written by a Kenyan woman. Her play In the Round was performed in 1964 and was banned by the Ugandan government. Her debut novel Alone with the Fig Tree East African Writing Committee Prize in 1964, and was subsequently rewritten as Ripples in the Pool (1975). It tells the story of Selina, an urban woman who falls in love with her boyfriend’s sister, and is notable, according to Gay Wilentz, "as the first sustained portrait of a lesbian within the context of post-colonial African literature" Njau's second novel, The Sacred Seed, was published in 2003. In the words of The Daily Nation, the author "delves into the minds of her characters to reveal the psychological wounds they have suffered under patriarchy and dictatorship and their determination to heal the society. ... The narrator presents the destruction of the resourcefulness of women in the traditional African societies by modern regimes and points to ways women’s power can be restored through the demolition of class hierarchies." She is also the author of The Hypocrite and other Stories (1977), a reworking of traditional oral narratives, and of Kenyan Women Heroes and their Mystical Power (1984), which records the overlooked historical contribution of women. Njau is included in the anthology Daughters of Africa (ed. Margaret Busby, 1992). She married the Tanzanian artist Elimo Njau but the couple later separated. Her son, Morille Njau, is an artist and a consultant based in the UK and her daughter Hana works in Atlanta, Georgia.





Senna, Danzy. Caucasia. New York. 1998. Riverhead Books. 1573220914. 355 pages. hardcover. Cover: Lawrence Ratzkin. 1st Novel.  



Birdie and Cole are the daughters of a black father and a white mother, intellectuals and activists in the civil rights movement in Boston in the 1970s. The sisters are so close that they have created a private language, yet to the outside world they can't be sisters: while Cole looks like her father's daughter, Birdie appears to be white. For Birdie, Cole is the mirror in which she can see her own blackness. Then their parents' marriage falls apart.



Senna DanzyDanzy Senna, (b. 1970) is an American novelist. Danzy Senna was born in Boston, Massachusetts and is the daughter of the author Carl Senna (THE BLACK PRESS AND THE STRUGGLE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS,) a black poet of Mexican heritage who came from a struggling single-parent household, and Fanny Howe, an Irish-American poet and novelist born into privilege. They met and married while both were activists during the American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968). Senna received her B.A. from Stanford University and MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, where she received several creative writing awards. Her first novel, CAUCASIA (1998), received the Book-of-the-Month Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction. It also received the Alex Award , American Library Association. Her second novel SYMPTOMATIC (2003), is a psychological thriller narrated by a biracial young woman who is often mistaken for white. Senna's latest work is a memoir entitled WHERE DID YOU SLEEP LAST NIGHT?: A PERSONAL HISTORY (2009).





Talbot, David. The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government. New York. 2015. Harper. 9780062276162. 687 pages. hardcover. 


9780062276162FROM THE PUBLISHER -


An explosive, headline-making portrait of Allen Dulles, the man who transformed the CIA into the most powerful—and secretive—colossus in Washington, from the founder of Salon.com and author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers. America’s greatest untold story: the United States’ rise to world dominance under the guile of Allen Welsh Dulles, the longest-serving director of the CIA. Drawing on revelatory new materials—including newly discovered U.S. government documents, U.S. and European intelligence sources, the personal correspondence and journals of Allen Dulles’s wife and mistress, and exclusive interviews with the children of prominent CIA officials—Talbot reveals the underside of one of America’s most powerful and influential figures. Dulles’s decade as the director of the CIA—which he used to further his public and private agendas—were dark times in American politics. Calling himself “the secretary of state of unfriendly countries,” Dulles saw himself as above the elected law, manipulating and subverting American presidents in the pursuit of his personal interests and those of the wealthy elite he counted as his friends and clients—colluding with Nazi-controlled cartels, German war criminals, and Mafiosi in the process. Targeting foreign leaders for assassination and overthrowing nationalist governments not in line with his political aims, Dulles employed those same tactics to further his goals at home, Talbot charges, offering shocking new evidence in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. An exposé of American power that is as disturbing as it is timely, The Devil’s Chessboard is a provocative and gripping story of the rise of the national security state—and the battle for America’s soul.


Talbot DavidDavid Talbot is the author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years and the acclaimed national bestseller Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love. He is the founder and former editor in chief of Salon, and was a senior editor at Mother Jones and the features editor at the San Francisco Examiner. He has written for The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Time, The Guardian, and other major publications. Talbot lives in San Francisco, California.






le, thi diem thuy. The Gangster We Are All Looking For. New York. 2003. Knopf. 0375400184. 161 pages. hardcover. Jacket photograph courtesy of the author. Jacket design by Steven Amsterdam. 




A momentous literary debut: the life of a Vietnamese family in America luminously observed through the knowing eyes of a child. In 1978 six refugees a girl, her father, and four ‘uncles’ are pulled from the sea to begin a new life in San Diego. In the child’s imagination, the world of itchy dresses and run-down apartments is transmuted into an unearthly realm: she sees everything intensely, hears the distress calls of inanimate objects and waits for her mother to join her. But life loses none of its strangeness when the family is reunited. As the girl grows, her matter-of-fact innocence eddies increasingly around opaque and ghostly traumas: the cataclysm that engulfed her homeland, the memory of a brother who drowned and, most inescapable, her father’s hopeless rage for a father’s order. In THE GANGSTER WE ARE ALL LOOKING FOR, lê thi diem thuy has illuminated a world of great beauty and enormous sorrows. Here is an authentically original story of finding one’s place and voice in America.


le thi diem thuyle thi diem thuy was born in Phan Thiet, southern Vietnam. She and her father left Vietnam in 1978, by boat, eventually settling in Southern California. lê is currently a Radcliffe Fellow and resides in western Massachusetts.









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