This year traveling around the world is put on hold, but there is another way you can do it this summer with Summer Book Bingo. The “In Translation” square let’s you travel by armchair from China to Morocco to India. Here are a few recommendations to get you started on your Book Bingo journey. Safe travels!
First stop is Iraq with The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq by Dunyā Mīkhāʼīl. A nonfiction book translated from Arabic, it tells the story of several women who have been held captive by Daesh (ISIS) and of their escape with the help of a local beekeeper.
Second stop on our journey is Casablanca in The Happy Marriage by Tahar Ben Jelloun. Translated from French, this fiction novel is told from two separate points of view, the husband who has written and hidden a book blaming everything wrong with his life on his wife. When his wife finds it, she writes her own interpretation of the events held within.
The third stop on our journey is India in The Story of A Goat by Perumāḷmurukan. Translated from Tamil, the story is told from the goat’s perspective. A farmer and his wife are given a black goat kid who is the runt of the litter. As the goat gets nursed to health and continues to live a very full life we learn of her adventures and tribulations.
Let’s stop next at Japan and visit a library in The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami. A young boy gets lost in a maze inside a nightmarish library where an old man wants to eat his brains. With the help of a voiceless girl and a sheep man, they will attempt to escape.
Our final stop is China with The Four Books by Lianke Yan. Translated from Chinese, artistic and academic free thinking individuals are in a reeducation camp to bring them back to Communism. The person in charge of them is a preadolescent child who is cruel in their punishments, but can also at times be sympathetic.
For more inspiration read these previous blog posts:
For more books in translation, check out our book list!
For more ideas for books to meet your Summer Book Bingo challenge, follow our Shelf Talk #BookBingoNW2020 series or check the hashtag #BookBingoNW2020 on social media. Book bingo is presented in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures .
It’s not so easy to find movies about characters in the 60+ age category, let alone ones that depict older adults in a positive light. Fortunately, some are available for free viewing on Kanopy and Hoopla attesting that seniors can indeed lead interesting and meaningful lives.
My Old Lady, a 2014 English movie adapted from Israel Horowitz’s book by the same title, can be streamed on Kanopy. This sophisticated portrait of a lady in her 90’s shows someone in full control of her sharp mind carrying on with her profession. She handles a scheming guest trying to displace her from her Paris home and deals with the drama which plays out when we learn family secrets about the intruder! With Maggie Smith in the lead role some delightful dialogue reminiscent of the one-line ‘zingers’ from the TV series Downton Abbey embellish this film and Kevin Kline holds his own. Well worth watching.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, inspiring older adults appear frequently among foreign language flicks, particularly from France where “joie de vivre” continues in later years. A noteworthy French movie from 2011 is All Together: Et si on vivait tous ensemble which not only shows five friends courageously living together when one of them can no longer live alone, but also successfully handling problems on their own which inevitably come with aging. Iconic actor Jane Fonda depicts graceful aging through her character Jeanne, while the other four actors lend creativity and feistiness to their character depictions. The taboo topic of sex in older life is also candidly depicted and the film is thought-provoking and modern. Continue reading “Positive Reflections of Older Adults in Movies”
I recently saw an article with the headline We’re on the Brink of Cyberpunk and while I did not read this article it did get me thinking about what people might consider a Cyberpunk world to be. With images of from the movies eXistenZ and Ex Machina running through my head, I did my best to envision this future we are on the ‘brink’ of.
Some might ask, “What is Cyberpunk?” It’s a combination of advanced technology paired with a gritty society, one that’s falling apart. This term was initially coined by Bruce Bethke in his short story Cyberpunk. You’ll find plenty of options in our catalog for exploring how different authors envision cyberpunk worlds.
To start us off, if you’d like a little mood music, try the album 100 Greatest Science Fiction Themes which has 100 songs from different movies that would go great as your Cyberpunk background music.
As for books, try Moxyland by Lauren Beukes. It’s set in a dystopian South Africa where you get in serious trouble for disconnecting from the internet. You get to see this world through four different narrators challenging this way of life. In Infomocracy, a political thriller by Malka Older, we see a world controlled by a search engine with an election on the horizon.
In a city full of pollution and illness, the wealthy buy their way out of the smog and leave everyone else to suffer, until some teenagers decide to make a change in Cindy Pon’s young adult book Want. Another young adult book is Warcross by Marie Lu, in which we follow a bounty hunter who accidentally hacks her way into an online gaming tournament. Making a sensation of herself, she gets hired to discover a security problem in the tournament but ultimately has to unravel a conspiracy.
Next are two books with the same theme of drugs in the future. In Ramez Naam’s book Nexus, a drug connects you to another person’s mind. This gives us a world where people want to improve, eradicate, or exploit the drug and leaves us with a book about international espionage. False Hearts by Laura Lam is centered around conjoined sisters who get separated and are given artificial hearts. They go about their lives until one of them is accused of murder and associated with a crime syndicate that specializes in a drug that allows people to live out their most violent desires.
Hopefully these suggestions will help you get the feel for Cyberpunk, if that does end up being our fate.
Have you already blown through the last list of poetry by trans and non-binary Black, Indigenous, and People of Color that was posted on Shelf Talk? Well, you are in look, because we’re back with even more amazing reads by trans BIPOC voices. This time, the list includes writing in both poetry and novel formats, and some of them are even available as E-Books on OverDrive – all you need is your Library card, an internet connection, and a compatible device and you’ll be able to access them without ever leaving your home.
Holy Wild by Gwen Benaway Holy Wild, released in 2018, is the third collection of poetry from Gwen Benaway, who identifies as a trans woman of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. She is also currently a PhD candidate in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Toronto. This poetry collection draws extensively on her own encounters with transphobia and how this has intersected with her experience as an Indigenous person in Canada, and ties these intensely individual, personal experiences into the macro historical, social, and political legacies of colonial violence they are ultimately derived from. The poems are also multilingual, utilizing both English and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), which definitely adds to both their dynamism and portrayal of her experience.
When the Chant Comes by Kay Ulanday Barrett
Another poetry collection, When the Chant Comes was released in 2016 by Kay Ulanday Barrett, a multi-disciplinary artist who identifies as disabled, pin@y-amerikan, transgender, and queer (more on his website). This collection explores all of these identities and the political questions they pose, especially looking at how living with sickness/disability informs Barrett’s racialized and gendered experience. His poetry also takes an explicitly anti-colonial stance towards living in the United States. The mood of this collection is lively, its form is tight and well-crafted, and there is plenty of humor interwoven throughout. This is a stellar read for Pride month!
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi Freshwater is a 2017 debut novel from Nigerian-American non-binary author Akwaeke Emezi that somewhat autobiographically explores their own trans experience through the lens of multiple personalities and fragmented identity. It tells the story of a young Nigerian woman named Ada whose experience of having multiple people living in her one body (due to being born “with one foot on the other side”) causes challenges between herself and her very conservative Nigerian family. When she moves to America for college, and has a traumatic experience, her personalities begin to take over her psyche with dangerous results. Throughout the book Emezi employs some interesting literary devices throughout the novel as the action is narrated in turn by Ada’s many selves, and it also is rooted in Igbo traditions and mythology. The novel was selected for the National Book Awards 5 Under 35 and has received extensive critical acclaim, especially for its strength as a debut.
Recent events have again highlighted long standing discussions on public safety, the appropriate use of force, the goals and mission of police forces, and accountability to the public, among related topics. In Seattle, how have these conversations changed over time, and what lessons might we find in the past to provide direction and shape public policy in the future?
In this series we will look more closely at Seattle’s history to see how it impacts us today. We will look at how two events in 1965 anticipate in many ways the current conversation on police review boards and greater accountability to the public. (In our next post, we will look at the creation of the East Precinct, and our final post will review publicly available resources related to Seattle Police Department use of force statistics, budget, and more.)
1965: Accountability by Whom, to Whom?
Attempts to call for an independent police review board in Seattle began as early as 1955, particularly in response to that year’s Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Police Practices which found that the “…Seattle Police Department — like the white community — held essentially racist attitudes about Black citizens, frequently stereotyping them as ‘criminal types.'” Despite the report, requests for an independent police board were denied, and instead only sensitivity training for police was recommended.
Formal attempts to create a police review board can be traced back to a request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in November, 1964 for a hearing on the creation of a police review board. Recently, the Seattle Municipal Archives has made audio, transcripts, minutes, and more from the meetings available digitally through their Seattle Voices online exhibition portal. Key figures, including the Reverend Samuel McKinney, testified.
Excerpts from Committee of the Whole meeting on January 22, 1965:
…[M]any negros feel there’s a double standard of police. From the canal on the north to the lake bridge on the south – heaven help the negro caught beyond that point after 6 pm…[T]here are many who feel that there should be a review board or something of this type, number one because many people lack faith in the ability of the police department to police itself…
[I]n the Northwest in particular there’s a certain way in which race relations are handled. And today is typical of it. We will do enough for good public relations value but not enough to ultimately solve the problem…
Ernest Barth, Professor, University of Washington Department of Sociology (listen to audio)
It is necessary to understand that there is a tradition within negro communities all over the United States that’s built on past experience and this tradition too affects what’s seen in the relationships between the negroes and police. This tradition…is a tradition of exploitation, brutality. Negroes all over the United States, north, south, east, and west, have come to believe and I would say on basis of sociological studies of this matter, considerable substance behind it, that the law that’s dished out by the court and by police, is white man’s law and in two ways works to the disadvantage of negroes.
E. June Smith, President of the Seattle Branch of the NAACP (listen to audio)
I find that many negroes are not only fearful of the police, but they are antagonistic. They fear violence from the police and therefore they are not very happy about their handling… I know that we have many cases that come in our office and over our telephones which indicate that there must be brutality. After hearing the cases today, the complaints that I have heard today, they are similar to the complaints that we get in our office.
Additional testimony included Richard Variot, who worked in the Seattle Police Department property room, reporting on the abuse of prisoners as well as members of the public who shared statements of mistreatment or unfair arrests.
On February 20, 1965, the Council of the Whole unanimously rejected the ACLU’s request for an independent police review board, resolving that existing structures were adequate to review misconduct. They did however agree to review the use of force by the police. Less than six months later, this review would be put to a remarkable public test.
A fight between two off-duty white Seattle Police Department officers and two unarmed African-American men in an International District restaurant in 1965 ended with one of the men dead as they attempted to drive away. Accusations of the use of racial slurs by the officers, and conflicting testimony from police officers and witnesses at the cafe only served to heighten long-simmering distrust between police and the predominately African-American community of the Central District, a community already restricted in no small part to racial covenants, redlining, and employment discrimination.
After a month-long inquest, the coroner’s jury came to its conclusion: “Verdict of Excusable Homicide.”
Seattle Times Historic Archive (1895-Current) may also be of interest in finding articles related to police reform, police brutality, police use of force, and related terms. This resource is available remotely to Seattle Public Library cardholders for free, as part of a generous grant from the Seattle Public Library Foundation. Please note that searching is text-only so using similar or related terms or phrases is needed. For example, you can find an article providing an overview of the civil rights investigation by the US Department of Justice into the Seattle Police Department in this January 10, 2018 article, Timeline of Seattle Police Reform, or this March 31, 1969 article,Law, Justice Task Force Goals Laudable- Maybe Impossible.