What We Are Reading Today: Working by Robert Caro

Updated 11 April 2019
0

What We Are Reading Today: Working by Robert Caro

  • Caro talks a lot about power in Working. It can corrupt, yes, but not always.

In his sixth book, Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing, Robert A. Caro shares the methods and motivations he employs while writing biographies that are ever-centered on the nature of power in America.

“Considering that the 83-year-old averages a book a decade, his fans might wonder whether Working will reset the clock that started in 2012, when the fourth book of his multivolume magnum opus, The Years of  Lyndon Johnson, was published,” said Jennifer Szalai in a review published in The New York Times.

Caro talks a lot about power in Working. It can corrupt, yes, but not always. “Once you get enough power, once you’re there, where you wanted to be all along, then you can see what the protagonist wanted to do all along, because now he’s doing it,” he says. “What power always does is reveal.”

“There are a number of anecdotes in Working that Caro has shared before — after all, his books are so comprehensive that it only makes sense for, say, Means of Ascent, the second book in the Johnson series, to include a section on how Caro tracked down Luis Salas, a former voting official who confessed to helping Johnson steal the 1948 Senate election,” added Szalai. 

In a review published in ft.com. Richard Lambert said that Caro’s books are not biographies in the normal sense of the word. What interests him is political power: Where it comes from, why, how it is exercised and how it bears on the lives of the powerless. 


A poetic reflection on what it means to be Muslim in Europe

Updated 17 June 2019
0

A poetic reflection on what it means to be Muslim in Europe

  • Rahmani is an Algerian-born writer, art-historian and academic
  • Her first novel in the series, “France,” was about her father — a Harki, an Algerian soldier in the Algerian War who fought for the French

CHICAGO: From France comes the second book in Zahia Rahmani’s trilogy, “Muslim: A Novel” Delving deep into identity loss, displacement, misrepresentation and monolithic labels, Rahmani’s book moves between Algeria and France and the political and societal pressures of being both Muslim and European. The circumstances of her birth and the past have always been dictated by conditions beyond her reach and have forced upon her the loss of language and her own history.  

In unadulterated lyrical prose, Rahmani grapples with the circumstances of her life. She writes, “I was forced to lose myself in the century of errors that came before me,” disclosing that her life has never been her own. She was “born in 1962 in a society between times.” After moving to France at the age of five, Rahmani realized her life had changed once she began to lose her language Tamazight, a Berber language spoken by the people of Kabylie in the Aures Mountains, one that was never written down.

Remembering Quranic stories, her mother’s folktales and her own memories, Rahmani draws parallels with her own life to try and understand her fate. She has spent most of her time imprisoned and mislabeled as an Arab, or French, or an immigrant — even though she identifies as none of these.

Rahmani’s language flows freely like water, despite the weight of her words and their inferences. Her writing is impactful and profound as she attempts to close the gaps in herself, trying to understand her own identity or, rather, one that has been forced upon her.

Rahmani is an Algerian-born writer, art-historian and academic. Her first novel in the series, “France,” was about her father — a Harki, an Algerian soldier in the Algerian War who fought for the French. After being exiled from their home, the family sought refuge in France but faced severe discrimination.

“Muslim: A Novel” was originally published in 2005 then translated by Matt Reeck, a poet and translator, from French into English and published by Deep Vellum in 2019.