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Back You are here: Home Reviews Books Recommended Reading: November 2010

Recommended Reading: November 2010

BookgenericBe inspired, motivated, challenged and intrigued by this month's selection of books.

The Art of Struggle
Michel Houellebecq
Herla Publishing (imprint of Alma Books, UK). Distributed in Australia by Palgrave Macmillan.

Art_struggleNotorious as a novelist, Michel Houellebecq was first known in France as a poet. In many ways it is through poetry that he found his novelist’s voice.

The Art of Struggle is a collection of prose and verse pieces which investigate issues of alienation, individualism and disillusionment – themes that will be familiar to Houellebecq readers – while subtly adopting a variety of tones and styles, revealing facets of the author unknown until now in the English-speaking world.

Deeply melancholic and despairing at the inhumanity of the present-day world, yet brimming with vitality and invention, these timely, poignant poems clear away the dross of hollow optimism and call for an end to the nightmare of modern existence.


Between the Fences
Tony Hefner
Seven Stories Press. Distributed in Australia by Palgrave Macmillan.

BetweenFencesSomething at the Texas detention facility is terribly wrong, and Tony Hefner knows it. But the guards are repeatedly instructed not to speak of anything they witness. In the Rio Grande Valley, one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the United States, good jobs are scarce and the detention facility pays the best wages for a hundred miles.

The guards follow orders and keep quiet.

For six years, Tony Hefner was a security guard at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center, one of the largest immigration detention centers in America, and witnessed alarming corruption and violations of basic human rights. Officers preyed upon the very people whom they are sworn to protect.

On behalf of the 1,100 men, women, and children residing there on an average day, and the 1,500 new undocumented immigrants who pass through its walls every month, this is the story of the systematic sexual, physical, financial, and drug-related abuses of detainees by guards.


A Long Way from Paradise: Surviving the Rwandan Genocide
Leah Chishugi
Virago. Distributed in Australia by Hachette.

RwandaLeah Chishugi grew up in eastern Congo but, aged seventeen, she moved to Kigali, the Rwandan capital, to work as a model. She married and had a son.

Then in 1994 she was caught up in the horrific conflict, and escaped only after being left for dead under a pile of corpses. She fled with her son to Uganda, then South Africa where she was miraculously reunited with her husband whom she believed dead.

Leah finally settled in the UK where she was granted asylum and became a nurse. After her mother died, Leah decided to set up a charity to help the women and children of eastern Congo - victims of continuing war atrocities.

A Long Way from Paradise is a deeply courageous narrative of one woman's survival of personal trauma and finding a greater purpose in life through devotion to the service of others.


Singing the Coast
Margaret Somerville and Tony Perkins
Aboriginal Studies Press

SingingCoastSinging the Coast offers readers a rare opportunity to visit the heart of Gumbaynggirr culture and trace the shaping of place and identity in coastal Australia.

The story began under the coral trees at the Old Camp where Tony Perkins first sat with his grandfather and listened to his stories. His grandfather was an initiated man who brought the spirit creatures along to teach the knowledge that was once passed on in initiation.

By recording their stories Gumbaynggirr people invite us to share their intimate connection with their land. The stories are brought into a contemporary present at Muurrbay through deep mapping of the songlines that cross Gumbaynggirr country to reveal how people, place and identity are connected.

Tony Perkins and Margaret Somerville take up the challenge of speaking from the place between Aboriginal and settler stories to share the experience of this rich collaboration.

Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience
Stephen S. Hall
University of Queensland Press (UQP)

WisdomA compelling investigation into one of our most coveted ideals through the lens of modern brain science.

In this fascinating journey from philosophy to science, Stephen S. Hall traces the path of wisdom, from its sudden emergence in the fifth century B.C. to its modern manifestations in education, politics, and the workplace.

We learn how wisdom became the provenance of philosophy and religion; how it is a catalyst for social change; and how psychologists and neuroscientists have begun to shed light on the cognitive traits long associated with wisdom, to see how we might cultivate it.

Hall explores the neural mechanisms for wise decision making; the conflict between the emotional and cognitive parts of the brain; the development of compassion, humility, and empathy; the effect of adversity and the impact of early-life stress on the development of wisdom; and how we can improve our future choices and future selves.

Hall's riveting exploration of the science of wisdom allows us to see this ancient virtue with fresh eyes, yet also makes clear that despite modern science's most powerful efforts, wisdom continues to elude easy understanding.


Whale Warrior
Pete Bethune
Hodder Moa. Distributed in Australia by Hachette.

WhaleWarriorControversial, attention-seeking, forthright and driven ... all these words have been used to describe Pete Bethune.

What can't be denied, though, is that he is a man who is prepared to fight - quite literally - for his principles; principles which relate not just to the saving of the great whales of the Southern Ocean, but to the planet as a whole.

In Whale Warrior the invective is not reserved solely for the Japanese. Bethune lashes his own government for their lack of action over Japan's annual whale hunt. For this, Bethune has received much criticism.

This, though, he believes is a small price to pay for spotlighting the plight of the whales.








Books selected by Katrina Fox, Editor-in Chief.

For details of where to send review copies, click on the Contact menu.

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