What We Are Reading Today: The End of Ambition by Mark Atwood Lawrence

What We Are Reading Today: The End of Ambition by Mark Atwood Lawrence
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Updated 10 January 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The End of Ambition by Mark Atwood Lawrence

What We Are Reading Today: The End of Ambition by Mark Atwood Lawrence

At the start of the 1960s, John F. Kennedy and other American liberals expressed boundless optimism about the ability of the United States to promote democracy and development in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

With US power, resources, and expertise, almost anything seemed possible in the countries of the Cold War’s “Third World”— developing, postcolonial nations unaligned with the US or Soviet Union.

Yet by the end of the decade, this vision lay in ruins.


What We Are Reading Today: The Man Who Understood Democracy

What We Are Reading Today: The Man Who  Understood Democracy
Updated 23 May 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Man Who Understood Democracy

What We Are Reading Today: The Man Who  Understood Democracy

Author: Olivier Zunz
In 1831, at the age of twenty-five, Alexis de Tocqueville made his fateful journey to America, where he observed the thrilling reality of a functioning democracy.

From that moment onward, the French aristocrat would dedicate his life as a writer and politician to ending despotism in his country and bringing it into a new age.

In this authoritative and groundbreaking biography, leading Tocqueville expert Olivier Zunz tells the story of a radical thinker who, uniquely charged by the events of his time, both in America and France, used the world as a laboratory for his political ideas.


Author Mohammed Alnaas first Libyan to win International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Author Mohammed Alnaas first Libyan to win International Prize for Arabic Fiction
Updated 23 May 2022

Author Mohammed Alnaas first Libyan to win International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Author Mohammed Alnaas first Libyan to win International Prize for Arabic Fiction

DUBAI: Author Mohammed Alnaas, 31, is the youngest author and first Libyan to win the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for his book “Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table.”

The winner was announced on Sunday and Alnaas will be given a $50,000 prize in addition to funding for an English translation of the book.

The Libyan author delves into gender roles and ideas of masculinity in a faraway village of his native country for the book. After getting engaged, Milad’s family life becomes the talk of the village as he indulges in his passion for bread-making while his fiancé works to support the house.

Milad learns of the gossip by the neighborhood and publicly questions traditional gender roles.

Alnaas’s novel won out of six shortlisted novels, and was praised for its complexity and literary flair. 

The book was written in just six months during the lockdown, while Tripoli was under bombardment.

Alnaas revealed that writing “Bread on the Table of Uncle Milad” was his “refuge from insanity” amidst the news of COVID-19 and war.

“The winning novel is written in the form of confessions of personal experience. Its plethora of detail is deftly unified by a gripping narrative,” said Tunisian novelist and previous IPAF winner Shukri Mabkhout, chair of the 2022 judges. This offers a deep and meticulous critique of prevailing concepts of masculinity and femininity and the division of work between men and women, and the effect of these on both a psychological and social level. It falls into the category of novels which question cultural norms about gender. However, it is embedded in its local Arab context and steers away from any ideological treatment of the issues, as such a treatment would be contrary to the way in which fiction can present multiple points of view,” he added.

Born in 1991, Alnaas obtained a BA in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tripoli in 2014 before publishing his short story collection “Blue Blood” in 2020.


What We Are Reading Today: Wildlife of India by Bikram Grewal

What We Are Reading Today: Wildlife of India by Bikram Grewal
Updated 22 May 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Wildlife of India by Bikram Grewal

What We Are Reading Today: Wildlife of India by Bikram Grewal

The Indian subcontinent is exceptionally rich in wildlife because of its wide variety of habitats and climates, ranging from the ocean to the Himalayas and from the Rajasthan desert to Mawsynram in Meghalaya, one of the wettest places on earth. This diversity supports a huge range of charismatic species, from the iconic tiger to clouded leopards, crocodiles to king cobras, hornbills to eagles. 

The guide begins with an overview of India’s climate and geography, its wildlife habitats and how to enjoy them, and threats to wildlife. The main part of the book includes concise species descriptions of 770 birds, 114 mammals, 72 butterflies and other insects, 54 reptiles, and 54 plants, each accompanied by a photograph. The book concludes with a section on wildlife-watching in the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.


What We Are Reading Today: Translating Myself and Others

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Updated 22 May 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Translating Myself and Others

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Author: Jhumpa Lahiri

Translating Myself and Others is a collection of candid and disarmingly personal essays by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, who reflects on her emerging identity as a translator as well as a writer in two languages.
With subtlety and emotional immediacy, Lahiri draws on Ovid’s myth of Echo and Narcissus to explore the distinction between writing and translating, and provides a close reading of passages from Aristotle’s Poetics to talk more broadly about writing, desire, and freedom.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Indelible City

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Updated 21 May 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Indelible City

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Author: Louisa Lim

Louisa Lim’s Indelible City dismantles the received wisdom about Hong Kong’s history and replaces it with an engaging, exhaustively researched account of its long struggle for sovereignty.
“Definitely recommended for anyone wishing to better know this unique city and its people,” said a review on Goodreads.com.
It said that Lim’s “deeply researched and personal account is startling, casting new light on key moments: The British takeover in 1842, the negotiations over the 1997 return to China, and the future Beijing seeks to impose.”
Indelible City features guerrilla calligraphers, amateur historians and archaeologists who, like Lim, aim to put Hong Kongers at the center of their own story.
The review added: “Wending through it all is the King of Kowloon, whose iconic street art both embodied and inspired the identity of Hong Kong — a site of disappearance and reappearance, power and powerlessness, loss and reclamation.”
The author does an amazing job explaining the past and present.

She gives readers true insight into the people of Hong Kong and its true history.