A fantastic collection of essays by an incredible group of woman reporting from around the Middle East. We so often her about the men of war, the (mostly male) militants and (mostly male) soldiers lead by their (mostly male) leaders. But, it's the woman trying to care for loved ones, keep households together, and keep food on the table. Woman are also on the front lines of reporting, and can provide a unique glimpse into the conflicts in Syria and its surrounding countries.
This collection made my cry so many times, but I am so glad I read it. Highly, highly recommended.
Country: Lebanon (plus various ME countries)
My Rating: 5/5 – Unmissable
I don't feel qualified to rate the poetry on a technical level, but personally I didn't connect with the rhyming style of these poems. The written piece at the end – Custodians of the Land – shows Oodgeroo's talent as a writer and I would love to see a non-fiction book or memoir by her.
Having said that, the messages within the poems themselves are poignant and powerful, and I believe they stand out even for readers who don't enjoy rhyming poetry. In particular I liked The Unhappy Race, Aboriginal Charter of Rights, Gifts, and Civilisation.
A good read for anyone looking to understand more about Aboriginal struggles or colonialization in general. Even if poetry isn't your thing, this is a collection of raw emotions that you won't find in the history books.
My Rating: 3/5
How We Became Human by Joy Harjo is a collection of poems spanning from 1975 – 2001. It deals mostly with Native American experiences and challenges over the past few decades. In addition to the poems, this collection features endnotes to give reader context, which is particularly helpful going into this is 2019.
I love Harjo's writing, I was particularly drawn to her work in the 80's and 90's (mid-section of the book) but there are outstanding pieces throughout. She compares poetry to traditional native songs, and indeed the pieces I enjoyed most have a lyrical quality. Although Harjo's voice as a Native American woman is important to this collection, she is an incredible poet beyond being a 'voice'.
I strongly recommend this collection for poetry lovers, or for anyone looking to get into poetry.
Country: USA (Native American)
My Rating: 5/5
Last week I went camping in Germany, and I want to share a few of my highlights from the trip. It's so easy to remember being tired, or the heat, or the long train ride, or that the toilet sink was broken, but I want to remember the joys – big or small – too.
- reading books and talking books with awesome people (my tbr increased!)
- reuniting with friends.
- cooking outdoors on a camp stove.
- snuggling into a hammock with my sleeping bag.
- hearing the stories of badass woman around the world fighting for freedom and equality (it was a hacker/activist camp)
- seeing so many people living authentically.
- my ever supportive partner.
My August book purchases. My People by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Australia), Diary of Frida Kahlo (Mexico), So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (Senegal) and Our Woman on the Ground (various ME countries) edited by Zahra Hankir.
A reclusive dying writer agrees to a series of interviews, but with each journalist’s visit he becomes more and more vicious, using his mastery of language to confuse, misdirect, and humiliate the interviewer.
Then comes Nina, who’s quick wits and meticulous research keep her ahead of his games. As her interview progresses we unravel the story of how this disgusting and egotistical man came to be.
This is a very strange novel, that touches on numerous things from the power of words, to ideas about innocence and sin, to whether evil is born or made.
The writing style is compelling, even if I though the first few interviews were a little too long. This was Nothomb’s debut novel and it is not as polished as her later works. For any new to Nothomb I would recommend starting with one of her later books.
My Rating: 3/5
While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end
A Woman Destroyed, destroyed me. I don't know how de Beauvoir manages to drag you into the emotional state of her characters so masterfully but I had to read this in pieces for my own sanity. It is such an incredible set of short stories about ageing, abandonment, and infidelity as experienced by women – and at the same time so painful to read.
My Rating: 5/5
“White or Blue?” is a short story by Andorran writer Pilar Burgués from her collection Flaixos de llum Blanca (Flashes of White Light). It's included as part of a Global Anthology curated by the website Culture Trip. Burgués draws inspiration from her many hospitalisations and surgeries for diabetes, turning the dark and sometimes scary visits into lyrical prose. I would love to read more from this writer, and I hope to see her full collection translated in the near future!
My Rating: 4/5
Maggie Nelson. I love your poetry and your bluntness. I love that you embrace uncertainty and nuance. I love that you are unafraid of difficult conversations.
The Argonauts is a poetic memoir about the transitions Maggie and her partner Harry went though during her pregnancy, and Harry's mastectomy and decision to use T (hormone therapy). It's also about bodies and the way society needs to sort them, categorise them, and define them as part of a political stance. Such things as love, desire, sexuality, and gender are not always so easily defined and there is value in being 'messy'.
My Rating: 4.5/5