evnegia (evnegia) wrote,

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Book Reviews

I've been writing book reviews for the Peace Corps Nicaragua mag, the "Va Pue". Here are some of my fave-o-rite books reviewed for your pleasure.

(I'd hide em to save you space, but I honest to god don't know how to do that)

Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama
Pgs: 442 A+

This autobiography of the junior Senator from Illinois is as much a study of race relations in America today as of one man’s struggle to find himself. Born of a Kenyan father and White American mother, Obama found himself caught between worlds. His father gone from early on, he had to find out on his own what it was to be young and Black in America. The pain and anguish of not fitting in… the unnamed hatred for the way things were and the people that perpetuated it.
Articulately, poetically, and concisely he describes the division between races. It made me pause every 20 pages or so to reevaluate my notions of class and racism. It made me take another look at the friendships I’ve had, the people I’ve known. Was there the same wariness lurking in their eyes? The knowledge that because of my skin tone and theirs, there would always be a shadow of doubt, a lack of trust?
Through his work as a community organizer in Chicago he delves into some of the problems facing the Black community. Mistrust, survivor’s guilt, discord amongst themselves. Later he visits his siblings in Kenya. The trips helps Obama finally understand his place in family history and the world.
There is now talk of Obama for President. With his experience in community organizing, State Senate, Harvard Law degree, and an International understanding (he also grew up in Indonesia), not to mention a commitment to Civil Rights and a language of uplifting faith, he is the perfect liberal candidate. But is America ready for a once young angry Black man as President?
I hope so, because he just may help heal the wounds of racism on both sides. For African Americans a proof of the possibilities and of change. For Whites, perhaps forgiveness for our sins.

Midnight’s Children
By Salmon Rushdie
Pgs: 533

Set in a scent rich Bombay (curry, paprika, grasshopper green chutney), this is the life story of a boy born with a face like the sub-continent of India. Would I be putting myself out there too much to say I identified with this physically deformed child with aspirations of changing history? Perhaps. Born at the stroke of midnight, at the very moment of India’s independence (Aug 15, 1947), Saleem Sinai is imbued with certain powers that link him to all of the other children of midnight. They in turn have there own unique powers: A boy who can move through reflective surfaces, a person who switches gender upon touching water, a time-traveler, Shiva of the crushing knees.
However remarkable the fantastical aspects of this story are, Rushdie never lets its characters fall into comic book like glory. He never lets their talents lead to a life above human struggle, but instead explores the ruined potential in all people. Rushdie’s heroes are merely children succumbing to the will and movement of time and place.
Despite a nose that can smell emotion and ego, and placing responsibility for the rise and fall of Indira Gandhi on the head of a single bandy legged, snot dripping, cucumber nosed, piece-of-the-moon, the story remains true to the feelings and struggles of humanity.
Can we not all see mirrored in our own lives, all that has come before us? Do we not stop and take note of our actions in a given momentous occasion, as if to gauge cause and affect? Perhaps what truly struck me (along with the details of Bombay talkies and Pakistani Wars) was the innocence of childhood getting beat out by the mundane realities of life.
PS: Marya loved it.
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