Books to Review

Option One:

The Taste of Penny

Jeff Parker’s characters stumble awkwardly into situations that reveal the darkest sides of themselves: Encountering a female Chechen suicide bomber on a bus ride in Russia, a man finds himself sexually aroused by the terrorist act he’s sure she’ll commit. A father reluctantly accompanies his draft dodger son to Quebec where he erects an enormous and obscene American flag in his front yard. A character who accidentally swallows a penny during a roadside sobriety test finds himself in a state of existential angst when it stays inside him. The characters in these fifteen voice-driven, comic stories show the trammeled among us, beaten down time and time again, still finding cause in the world for hope.

Option Two:

Rock and Hard Places: Travels to Backstages, Front Lines and Assorted Sideshows

What happens when The Prodigy go to Beirut, Def Leppard visit a cave in Morocco, and U2 visit Sarajevo? This account of seven years travelling the world with rock bands gives some of the answers, following the author “going to odd places, behaving strangely, and then writing about it.”

Option Three:

Fiction Across Borders: Imagining the Lives of Others in Turn-of-the-Millenium Novels

Theorists of Orientalism and postcolonialism argue that novelists betray political and cultural anxieties when characterizing “the Other.” Shameem Black takes a different stance. Turning a fresh eye toward several key contemporary novelists, she reveals how “border-crossing” fiction represents socially diverse groups without resorting to stereotype, idealization, or other forms of imaginative constraint. Focusing on the work of J. M. Coetzee, Amitav Ghosh, Jeffrey Eugenides, Ruth Ozeki, Charles Johnson, Gish Jen, and Rupa Bajwa, Black introduces an interpretative lens that captures the ways in which these authors envision an ethics of representing social difference. They not only offer sympathetic portrayals of the lives of others but also detail the processes of imagining social difference.

Whether depicting the multilingual worlds of South and Southeast Asia, the exportation of American culture abroad, or the racial tension of postapartheid South Africa, these transcultural representations explore social and political hierarchies in constructive ways. Boldly confronting the orthodoxies of recent literary criticism, Fiction Across Borders builds upon such seminal works as Edward Said’s Orientalism and offers a provocative new study of the late twentieth-century novel.

(From me: this one may be out of my league. If I were to get this assignment, I’d feel compelled to educate myself on all the listed writers –– embarrassingly, have not read them all –– and I just don’t have the time right now.)

4 Responses to “Books to Review”

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    Each of these press releases is irritating in its own unique way. Pass!

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