What We Are Reading Today: Building the Land of Dreams, by Eberhard L. Faber

Updated 05 July 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Building the Land of Dreams, by Eberhard L. Faber

  • Eberhard Faber tells the vivid story of how American rule forced New Orleans through a vast transition — from the ordered colonial world of hierarchy and subordination to the fluid, unpredictable chaos of democratic capitalism.

In 1795, New Orleans was a sleepy outpost at the edge of Spain’s American empire.

By the 1820s, it was teeming with life, its levees packed with cotton and sugar.

New Orleans had become the unquestioned urban capital of the antebellum South.

Looking at this remarkable period filled with ideological struggle, class politics, and powerful personalities, Building the Land of Dreams is the narrative biography of a fascinating city at the most crucial turning point in its history, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Eberhard Faber tells the vivid story of how American rule forced New Orleans through a vast transition — from the ordered colonial world of hierarchy and subordination to the fluid, unpredictable chaos of democratic capitalism.

The change in authority, from imperial Spain to Jeffersonian America, transformed everything.

As the city’s diverse people struggled over the terms of the transition, they built the foundations of a dynamic, contentious hybrid metropolis. 


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.