What We Are Reading Today: The Age of Questions by Holly Case

Updated 28 June 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: The Age of Questions by Holly Case

  • The Age of Questions illuminates how patterns of thinking move history
  • Case undertakes a stunningly original analysis, presenting, chapter by chapter, seven distinct arguments and frameworks for understanding the age

In the early nineteenth century, a new age began: The age of questions.  Alexis de Tocqueville, Victor Hugo, Karl Marx, Frederick Douglass, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Rosa Luxemburg, and Adolf Hitler were among the many who put their pens to the task. 

The Age of Questions asks how the question form arose, what trajectory it followed, and why it provoked such feverish excitement for over a century, says a review on the Prince University Press website.

Was there a family resemblance between questions? Have they disappeared, or are they on the rise again in our time? 

In this pioneering book, Holly Case, associate professor of history at Brown University, undertakes a stunningly original analysis, presenting, chapter by chapter, seven distinct arguments and frameworks for understanding the age. 

Turning convention on its head with meticulous and astonishingly broad scholarship, The Age of Questions illuminates how patterns of thinking move history, says the review. Case ingeniously explores the urgent ‘questions’ that European commentators found so compelling, and she excavates the multifarious dimensions of these questions in all their interlocking complexity, commented Larry Wolff of New York University.


BOOK REVIEW: Nine Palestinian refugees tell Shatila’s stories in this innovative book

Updated 17 July 2018
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BOOK REVIEW: Nine Palestinian refugees tell Shatila’s stories in this innovative book

  • “Shatila Stories” is a collaborative work of fiction written by nine refugees from the Shatila camp in Beirut

CHICAGO: A novel born in extraordinary circumstances, “Shatila Stories” is a collaborative work of fiction written by nine refugees from the Shatila camp in Beirut that was commissioned by Peirene Press.

The authors, ranging from the ages of 20 to 43, captivate the reader by painting a picture of muddied walkways, crumbling walls and desperate faces.

From beginning to end, the phenomenal words of Omar Khaled Ahmad, Nibal Alalo, Safa Khaled Algharbaqi, Omar Abdellatif Alndaf, Rayan Mohamad Sukkar, Safiya Badran, Fatima Omar Ghazawi, Samih Mahmoud and Hiba Mareb take the reader on a powerful journey. 

“Shatila Stories” begins with the character of Reham, who is leaving Damascus for Beirut. She and her family look to Shatila as a refuge from the strife at the Yarmouk camp in Syria. Reham’s story is embedded in spirituality and faith, a strength that drives many of the book’s characters. After Reham, the reader is told the story of Jafra, named after the revolutionary Palestinian fighter who was killed in an airstrike in 1976. 

Evil lurks within the boundaries of the Shatila camp — children are exploited, disease is rampant and the methods used to safeguard residents are sometimes more harmful than helpful.

The writers have done a brilliant job of conveying the constricted yet vibrant lives led by many in the camp, as they wander alleyways that are “narrow yet wide enough to hold a thousand stories.”

The effort to publish nine refugee writers began with Mieke Ziervogel, publisher of Peirene Press, who journeyed from London to Beirut with editor Suhir Helal after getting in contact with an NGO that runs a community center in the camp. 

After handpicking the writers during a three-day workshop, the manuscripts were received and translator Nasha Gowanlock got to work. It was a Herculean effort that reminds us that storytelling may be an art, but everyone has a story to tell.