Among the victims of Al-Shabab’s Nairobi mall massacre was Kofi Awoonor, a 78-year-old poet and statesman in town for a literary festival. Michael Daly celebrates the part of the man that will live on.
Kofi Awoonor was the very opposite of the terrorists who killed him. He was not a destroyer seeking to become exceptional by killing. He was a creator who achieved worldwide renown by writing poetry. The 78-year-old from Ghana came to Nairobi last week to participate in the annual Storymoja Hay literary festival. He gave a master class in poetry Friday, as the killers were preparing to do their worst. He was due to address the gathering later Saturday when he went shopping with his son at the Westgate mall.
It's national punctuation day! In a new book, Keith Houston investigates the origin and evolution of such punctuation marks as the asterisk (*), the pilcrow (¶), and the octothorpe (#). But it is the quest of a father and son to invent a symbol for sarcasm that will live in infamy.
The irony mark’s inconstant digital existence, begun with the abortive importation of the temherte slaq and sustained by a succession of futile pretenders, has most recently borne witness to one particularly determined project that almost—almost—cracked the problem. Outstripping the ironieteken, the temherte slaq, and their kin by far is the most remarked and reviled irony mark to date. The rise to infamy of the “SarcMark”® is unparalleled in the history of punctuation.
Lyndon Johnson flirted with her. JFK hated her. Historians blamed her for South Vietnam's downfall. And decades later, a writer found her hiding out in Paris. A new book uncovers the final days of Saigon’s infamous Dragon Lady.
Saigon, 1963: The city slinks toward a feverish violence. On the streets, monks set themselves alight to protest the government’s anti-Buddhist bent. Dissenters plot in secret among the Army’s ranks. In squalid prisons, students and political enemies rot in soiled tiger cages. And ensconced in Independence Palace, the insular ruling family prepares for martial law and inflates reports of their success against the Viet Cong. But the Americans backing the fragile South Vietnamese regime are growing disillusioned with President Ngo Dinh Diem and his pampered relatives and want the lot of them gone: the stubborn, inexperienced Diem, his ruthless younger brother, and particularly Diem’s sister-in-law, the woman John F.
The novelist Kevin Baker is back with a meaty, sweaty romp through 1940s and 50s New York. He talks to Allen Barra about the Jewish mob, historical fiction, and how he grades Obama.
James Joyce bragged that if Dublin suddenly ceased to exist, it could be reconstructed, brick by brick, from the pages of Ulysses. Those wishing to reconstruct old New York would be well advised to study Baker’s City of Fire trilogy—Dreamland, Paradise Alley (2002) and Striver’s Row (2006)—which chronicles the rise and fall of America’s greatest city from the Civil War to the 1950s. (Paradise Alley won the 2003 James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction and the American Book Award.
At Target Australia.
Target Australia hopes to tap into your inner goddess. The chain (which is separate from the U.S.-based stores but shares a logo) is working with 50 Shades of Grey author E.L. James to develop lingerie based on what Anastasia describes in the erotic books—including one piece based on the first gift Christian gives her. In a press statement, James said the collection would “tap into the fantasy world from the trilogy.” Target Australia Underwear General Manager Sally Shing called the lingerie “high quality” with “affordable and accessible prices.” But given the subject matter of 50 Shades (sadomasochism, in case you’ve lived under a rock in the year since it’s been published), the collection already has its detractors. “This is a normalizing of what are harmful practices which keep women subordinate in our culture,” said Australia anti-violence campaigner Melinda Tankard Reist.
From a Hungarian novelist’s newest to a biography of Richard Wagner.
Seiobo There Below by László Krasznahorkai. The fiction of Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai is often called “obsessive” by critics. For good reason—his sentences are enormous and repetitive, and his subjects are rigorously examined from all angles. He is a master of the breathless paragraph, the hypnotic meditation. James Wood, in a piece about Krasznahorkai’s pull as a postmodernist, noted that the worlds conjured by Thomas Bernhard seem more logical by comparison.
The bebop legend drove jazz into territories that continue to awe listeners with ears fast enough to keep up. The first volume of veteran critic Stanley Crouch’s decades-in-the-making Charlie Parker biography gets to the heart of Bird’s genius, but the book will test your patience, says Stuart Klawans.
The veteran jazz writer Stanley Crouch has a store of fresh information for you in his new book about Charlie Parker (1920–55), the genius of American music universally known as Bird, and invaluable insights to offer into the meaning of Parker’s achievement. It is imperative that you come into possession of this material, contained in Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker—even though, to get at it, you will sometimes feel as if you’re swimming through a vat of Jell-O laced with industrial sludge.
He might be prone to controversial outbursts, but what does the world’s leading atheist and scientist really like to talk about? J.P. O’Malley visits Dawkins in his Oxford home to find out.
Whenever Richard Dawkins’s name appears in the news nowadays, it’s usually for the wrong reasons. The occasional controversial outburst by the British scientist about religion can sometimes be insulting, misinformed, and arrogant. They also make it easy for us to forget why we come to read his work in the first place. While it’s certainly true that Dawkins’s 2006 book The God Delusion was an intriguing riposte to the world of theology, it’s not his area of expertise.
When Sophie Hayes joined her boyfriend in Italy for a vacation, she had no idea that he was about to prostitute her for money. Now, in her new memoir, she tells about her life as a sex slave in Europe’s underground.
Just a few years ago everything changed. I was trafficked. I was deceived by a man who said that he loved me. I was a product and a vehicle to make money. But I am a survivor. I had known my trafficker for many years prior to being forced into prostitution. We met at a club and texted or talked on the phone daily for years, until I came to trust him completely. He was my best friend. So when he asked me to visit him in Italy, I believed it was just a holiday.
There's a bearded, flannel-shirted movement afoot to ditch the Internet and reclaim the pre-digital life. James Poulos on how the latest hipster trend could burst the tech bubble.
Say what you will about hipsters: they've captured our imagination. Every decade seems to demand its own unique countercultural vanguard, and hipsters have delivered in style. There's nothing more of-the-moment than young white people who are downwardly mobile and loving it. Some of the most enterprising hipsters have managed to put ironic scare quotes around the whole concept of downward mobility, freeing themselves from the materialistic "rat race" that drew many of their parents into economically productive but spiritually draining lives.
Was the infamous murder of Matthew Shepard really a hate crime? Stephen Jimenez has spent 13 years investigating the case. Now in an exclusive excerpt from his new book he reveals new information about what really happened.
The following excerpt is adapted from The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, by Stephen Jimenez, to be published by Steerforth Press on September 24. In the book, Jimenez upends our understanding of the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard 15 years ago in Laramie, Wyoming, a crime that quickly came to be regarded as an open-and-shut case of anti-gay violence. Jimenez spent 13 years reporting the story and interviewed more than 100 sources, including convicted killers Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, prosecutor Cal Rerucha, and friends and lovers of Shepard’s from whom the public has never before heard.
Does a Middle East foreign policy determined by wishful thinking and poor information sound familiar? Meet William Yale, our man in the region back in WWI. Scott Anderson on America’s folly then—and now.
As the United States debates its role in the ongoing turmoil in Syria, we might do well to remember our initial foray into the region nearly a century ago. The very first American intelligence officer dispatched to that region was a 29 year-old man named William Yale. Until the United States entered World War I in April 1917, he had been living in Ottoman-controlled Syria as a local agent for the Standard Oil Company of New York. After the U.
Franciszka and Helena Halamajowa were two ordinary Poles with the extraordinary courage to hide Jews and a defecting German soldier in their attic during WWII. J.L Witterick on her new novel on the women who risked their lives to save their neighbors.
I am always amazed by stories where seemingly ordinary people display unpredictable, heroic behavior under the most dire of circumstances. Do we really know someone then, until we see them under duress?In My Mother's Secret, a book inspired by the courage of two otherwise unknown Polish women during the second World War. Franciszka and her daughter, Helena, do not stand out from a crowd in any way. They are poor peasants struggling to get by, like so many others at that time.
From the GOP’s doomed obsession with killing Obamacare to Steubenville a year after its shocking rape controversy, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
"The Plot to Kill Obamacare" by Jonathan Chait, New York. The doomed goal of destroying the President Obama’s signature legislative achievement hasn’t lost any of its power to drive Republicans mad. Here are the plots they’ve tried, and the ones they’re still planning to try. "A Town Destroyed for What Two People Did" by Katie J.M. Baker, Jezebel. A year after a shocking rape controversy and an even more shocking local response, a writer visits a town still feeling the effects of being vilified around the world.
As military action in Syria hinges on the work of British and American spies, a new book examines the often cozy, sometimes fraught relationship between the Anglo-American intelligence worlds. Emma Garman on its decline.
Once again life and death decisions hinge, ostensibly, on the information proffered by the respective espionage agencies of the US and UK. The JIC—Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee—is confident that the Assad regime was responsible for chemical attacks, an assessment echoed, with “caveats,” by a report from America’s Office of the Director for National Intelligence. Caveats or not, the sexed-up WMD dossier gifted by Tony Blair to George W.
Nearly a year after he started a campaign to have universities divest from fossil fuel investments, Bill McKibben says it’s time to take it to the next level. His new book is Oil and Honey.
So now the real divestment fight begins. We launched the drive to get colleges, cities, and churches to fight climate change by selling their fossil fuel stocks about ten months ago, and it met with immediate, unexpected success: a New York Times article on the drive turned into the most e-mailed story of the week, and before long over 300 college campuses had active campaigns underway. The Nation called it the fastest growing student movement in decades, and before long older folks were emulating their juniors: city governments from Seattle to San Francisco to Providence announced they were committed to divesting their fossil fuel stocks, and the nation’s original Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ, did the same.
When new mom Katrina Alcorn went back to work full-time, she panicked that she was failing her baby. In her new book, 'Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink," she examines how mothers are internalizing the stress of the work-life balancing act.
The reality of being a full-time working mom was like diving into a cold pool. You can’t prepare for it. The exhilaration of that first week quickly gave way to a deep, numbing ache for the former days with my baby. Leisurely midday grocery-shopping trips were replaced by harried evening trips with a cranky baby in the cart. No more baby yoga, peaceful afternoons at the park, reading The New Yorker while Ruby napped on my chest, or walks around the lake with the moms from my birth class.
It's just such a ‘hard read.’
All copies of Ralph Ellison's National Book Award–winning novel Invisible Man will be removed from a North Carolina county's school libraries. The Randolph County Board of Education voted to ban the critically acclaimed 1952 book from its reading list. Invisible Man was named one of the top 100 English-language novels of the 20th century by Time magazine in 2010, but according to the parent whose complaint sparked the vote, "This book is filthier, too much for teenagers." The board's chair said he thought the novel was "a hard read," while another board member said he "didn't find any literary value" in it.
Cambridge professor Mary Beard thinks the classics have always been dying. Nick Romeo explores their many resurrections in a review of Beard’s latest book of essays on everything from Roman humor to Cleopatra.
“I’d give ten years of my life to know Greek,” Mrs. Dalloway says in Virginia Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out. She has just heard a Mr. Pepper recite the famous ‘Ode to Man’ chorus from Sophocles’ Antigone, and the beauty of the language entrances her. Mr. Pepper, however, lacks the passion he inspires. He’s one of a long line of priggish bibliophiles in English novels, from Cecil Vyse in E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View to the suffocating Mr.
He abducted young women as sex slaves and forced them to take drugs and watch porn. He raped his male guards, soldiers, and ministers. Annick Cojean talks about her new book on Gaddafi's cold-blooded sexual debauchery.
In 2011, French reporter Annick Cojean was in Libya reporting on the fall of Muammar Gaddafi and the country's tenacious revolution when she happened across a young woman with a terrible story to tell. Soraya (as Cojean calls her) had been a happy-go-lucky 15-year-old when Gaddafi noticed her on a visit to her school. Soon thereafter, three women took Soraya from her family and confined her as a sexual slave to satisfy the depraved dictator's whims.
CHILL YOUR BONES
CBS Buys ‘Scary Stories’ Film
1980s children’s horror books.More
Oldest U.S. Book Sells for $14.1M
Printed in 1640.More
National Book Award Winners Announced
The Good Lord Bird takes fiction prize. More
STRIKE A POSE
Selfie Is Word of the Year
Beat out twerk, bitcoin.More
Author Barbara Park Dies
Wrote the “Junie B. Jones” series.More
Writer Doris Lessing Dies
Nobel Laureate was 94.More