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Posts Tagged ‘authors’

What does the number six, a pen and Salman Rushdie have in common? Easy, they are all trending on Twitter.

And the reason is one of America’s highest literary awards, PEN’s Freedom of Expression Courage Award, was given to the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, and consequently, in protest for the seemingly “gleeful” way the mag treats Muslims, six authors are boycotting the big gala. Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Peter Carey, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, and Tayie Selasi will not be present next week at the big fete, and Salman Rushdie has just one message for them:

“This is a clear cut issue,” he wrote. “The Charlie Hebdo artists were executed in cold blood for drawing satirical cartoons, which is an entirely legitimate activity. It is quite right that PEN should honour their sacrifice and condemn their murder without these disgusting ‘buts’.”

The Hebdo killings, Rushdie wrote, is a “hate crime, just as the anti-Semitic attacks sweeping Europe and almost entirely carried out by Muslims are hate crimes. This issue has nothing to do with an oppressed and disadvantaged minority. It has everything to do with the battle against fanatical Islam, which is highly organised, well funded, and which seeks to terrify us all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, into a cowed silence.”     http://scroll.in/article/723627/salman-rushdie-slams-fellow-writers-for-boycotting-ceremony-to-honour-charlie-hebdo

It seems absurd to me that an award in the field of journalism, for speaking the truth, for freedom of expression and not being restricted by a country’s government, would create such a controversy at this prestigious American institution.

A Washington Post journalist, Jason Rezaian, has been languishing in an Iranian jail for over nine months. President Obama put his name on the national news cycle at the Correspondent’s Dinner. Gathering information as part of your job should not result in jail time, should not put you on a fatwa list, and should not get you gunned down in your office.

Yesterday I saw the Helen Mirren movie with a friend, Woman in Gold. The atrocities of Nazi Germany were portrayed in flashbacks. The Austrians never thought this could happen to them, and yet we saw sane, seemingly normal people standing by, silent, while Jewish people were humiliated in the street, had their stores closed and their artwork confiscated. In fact, Nazi soldiers were welcomed as they invaded their country. Silence and indifference.

When we start to restrict freedom of expression, we begin to silence freedom.

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It just so happens that I read a couple of books on vacation that I would categorize as that heightened, coming-of-age, hormonal soup called YA – or Young Adult Fiction. Pity they didn’t have this category when I was that age, unless maybe “Little Women” qualifies? One book I picked up in the overstocked bookshelves of our villa was, “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. He wrote “Remains of the Day” and the jacket said he was a Booker finalist, so I thought, “Why not?”

The other was “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. This one I found in a French bookstore, and I really should have known it was YA, by the author and the large print, but it was just something for the plane and I figured, “Pourqoui pas?” Also, it was in English.

Ishiguro went big on description, but he hooked me right away. Granted there were no vampires, no Katniss archery-action scenes, in fact, the plot just sauntered along, from the perspective of Kathy, a “Carer,” about to retire from her job. Slowly we learn she’s maybe 30 years old and she’s been doing this Caring business for as long as anybody can remember, 12 years! Her memory is the meat of the story; her two best friends and their time spent at an exclusive boarding school in England.

Spoiler alert, they are all clones! If you love English drama, subterfuge, and mystery, you will love this book.

Ishiguro does not write like a realist. He writes like someone impersonating a realist, and this is one reason for the peculiar fascination of his books. He is actually a fabulist and an ironist, and the writers he most resembles, under the genteel mask, are Kafka and Beckett. This is why the prose is always slightly overspecific. It’s realism from an instruction manual: literal, thorough, determined to leave nothing out. But it has a vaguely irreal effect. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/03/28/something-about-kathy

Bit by bit we finally learn why his characters seem so rigid, so overburdened with angst. Can they be truly human, whatever that means. The author wonders if they have souls. I came away thinking, holy crap, I wonder if this could really happen? Because that’s what great dystopian, sci-fi fiction will do, take us just a few steps into the future. You know if they can clone a sheep, and your pet dog, we humans aren’t far behind.

Lois Lowry’s 1993 book has been made into a movie, so some of you may be more aware of “The Giver.” In this novella the 12 year old protagonist is about to be assigned his life’s work. I thought about French children taking their BAC exams at age 16 or 17, and then being herded into the appropriate training college. Lowry pulls you in by the idyllic family life which seems fine, until you learn what his father actually does as a “Nurturer” and what Jonas’ job will be, the receptacle of the world’s memories. This community, that functions without color, or emotion, needs a scapegoat to remember the past. Rebellious pre-teens of today may find the action short but the overall mood of this little gem is compelling.

It’s always good to learn when everyone is the same, we are all lost. And this morning comes the news that a British author in the fantasy genre has died. ” I can’t imagine a 13-year-old alive who wouldn’t be changed a bit, for the better, by reading Terry Pratchett,” said Caitlin Moran on her Twitter feed. Sir Terry, who looked like a character from Hogwarts, succumbed to Alzheimer’s at the young age of 66. Best known for his Discworld series, he used satire to point out paradox in the adult world and published 70 novels.

“His death was announced on his Twitter account, on Thursday afternoon. The first tweet was composed in capital letters – which was how the author portrayed the character of Death in his novels.” http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-31858156

“AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER,” it stated.

La Librairie a Gustavia

La Librairie a Gustavia

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Did you happen to catch the Golden Globes? I watched it in a book-ended fashion; the beginning and the end were great, but OMGawd, they actually got a wireless (radio) on Downton Abbey! Probably just a passing fancy right?The goings on about Highclere Castle was the meaty second act to my night of Hollywood pomp, and I’m ashamed to say when I switched back to the Globes I didn’t even recognize Lady’s Maid Anna Bates! Joanne Froggatt (a Dickensian name no?) won the award for Best Supporting Actress in a TV miniseries, primarily for her performance in a storyline where she is raped and brutally attacked by a valet in transit. The scene happens downstairs during a concert in a Godfather-like, back and forth juxtaposition.

In light of UVA today, at the start of the Winter Term, reinstating its banned fraternity after that scathing Rolling Stone article about a brutal but hard to prove gang rape, I think Froggatt’s words are telling:

“I received a small number of letters from survivors of rape,” Froggatt said in her acceptance speech. “One woman summed up the thoughts of many by saying she wasn’t sure why she’d written but she just felt in some way she wanted to be heard. I’d like to say, I heard you and I hope saying this so publicly in some way means you feel the world hears you.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/golden-globes-2015-downton-abbey-star-joanne-froggatt-wins-for-role-in-rape-storyline-9971414.html

Cheers to Amy Poehler and Tina Fey! For their fairy tale feminist twist on Bill Cosby and Sleeping Beauty; and for introducing George Clooney by leading with all of his new wife’s stellar achievements as a human rights’ lawyer. Now we girls know what it takes to land an American Prince. So ladies, just to amp up your feminist hackles, I found this reading list on Tumblr. Some of these authors you’ve heard of before, and some may be new. But believe you me, you’ll thank me in 2016! It starts out with Poehler’s new book, “Yes, Please.”

http://www.bustle.com/articles/53474-15-feminist-books-to-read-in-2015-to-help-you-stay-passionate-all-year

Can’t wait to read Rebecca Solnit’s “Men Explain Things to Me.” Like…“You know those subtly sexist moments that either caused your head to explode or suddenly go numb? Solnit has had those too, and she offers insight on how to handle these situations in her collection of essays.” Like the guy who asks the woman on maternity leave after having twins with a toddler at home what she’s doing with all her free time! Crazy funny right?

Oh and the news out of China. They too love their period dramas on the Tellie, but their turn at a Chinese Downton has failed miserably and made their censors apoplectic. They’ve had to shorten the close-ups of the women because they were showing too much cleavage! Ah, the power of the decolletage!

A Kayan woman in Burma, photo courtesy of Jack Winberg

A Kayan woman in Burma, photo courtesy of Jack Winberg

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