A book about us? Could I get the audio version? I'm a bit busy at the moment...
The book Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire (SmartPop/BenBella Books) was something I could not resist, despite the very real possibility that it would not only not answer my lingering Season Two questions, but also offer spoilers for things I didn't even know I didn't want to know about yet. Beyond the Wall, compiled by fantasy writer and editor James Lowder, is a collection of 14 essays on both the books and the show. It covers textual elements like their take on time and chronology ("An Unreliable World: History and Timekeeping in Westeros"), as well as ruminations on their place within literary and fantasy categories ("Beyond the Ghetto: How George R.R. Martin Fights the Genre Wars")—a close read, in other words, on the Song of Ice and Fire phenomenon itself, and on the themes and images that pervade it.
However, today, a question lingers with this sense of relief: Which families even have inner courtyards? Which families have traditionally segregated their women? Historically, it has always been the privileged few—the upper-castes and classes of the Indian social order within most religions—that have practiced veiling, segregation, and separation. This isn't to pit the working classes against the bourgeoisie, or the Dalits against the upper-castes, or any community, for that matter, against another. These communities do not inherently become evil or overtly patriarchal just because they practice segregation. Neither do communities that do not veil their women, for instance, become immediately resistant. Sometimes, it all comes down to who can afford to have their women not venture out of the house, or who can afford to have working women veiled in a manner that will not interfere with their labor practices. How did some of us start voicing the experience of all?
Okay, so we're basically just saying what many have already concluded. 50 Shades of Grey is a boring, badly written book that portrays people into BDSM as sick. Yes, it's popular, but we think erotica fans can do better.
Lisa Kirvirist and John Ivanko's new cookbook, Farmstead Chef, is a great eco-activist resource that could easily be placed next to the novel you're reading on your nightstand. Not only is it plump with yummy, mostly vegetarian and low-on-the-food-chain recipes, but it also has inspiring stories from the authors' own lives dotted throughout the book, as well as profiles of other food activists and farmers in today's local foods landscape.
It is no surprise that India is a Big Brother-esque figure in South Asia, especially, in histories of nation-building (the Partition, the 1971 Bangladeshi War of Independence, the decades under IPKF in Sri Lanka are just the tip of the iceberg), as researchers, we carry these legacies on our bodies and words. What kind of "secular" feminism are we advocating, if this "secular" voice comes from one platform only? Who talks of one kind of history only? What happens when this margin is speaking to you and you don't have enough slots to categorize them? Why are stories of the Partition by Indian authors the narrative that we are mostly familiar with (Shauna Singh Baldwin, and Bhism Sahani come to mind here)—no matter how sympathetic they may be to other margins?
Inga Muscio's Rose: Love in Violent Times is a heart-wrenching journey, with ups and downs, depressing moments mirrored by inspirational ones. It is beautiful, and though it largely continues with Muscio's usual themes of feminism and antiracism, I would file this book under "ecofeminism" as well.
Muscio's latest, published last year, picks up where her classic Cunt: A Declaration of Independence left off. Rose is divided into two sections: Violence and Love. It's written in Muscio's standard conversational yet highly informed tone, touching on history, culture, and anecdotes from her own life, seamlessly sewing it all together in a beautiful, diverse patchwork quilt. "Violence" talks about violence in our culture, engrained as it is, and speaks much about rape and safety.
Need some new reading material? These three new indie comics by Kate Skelly, Angie Wang, and Julia Gfrörer will take you from an outer galaxy to a zombiefied forest, and will keep you occupied (and perhaps up all night with every light turned on). Click through for more!
As a teacher to high school children, whenever we discussed social justice in the worlds of books we read, one question that would repeatedly come up was, "How do we understand privilege, if you say it is all around us—how can we work with the 'lowest' common denominator if there will always be more walls and more marginalization?"; and I remember not being to answer that question most of the time. By the end of the year, as a class, what we could loftily conclude was where our own privileges and marginalizations lay; given that we did all that we could to "not speak for others." Of course, we should have realized that growing up in Bombay meant we were speaking for others; coming of age in the decades of neoliberal economic policies in the cultural capital of the country does that to a generation of people—by being the very people who later India Shining addresses, we yield that kind of power. The privilege to voice someone else's story, and to use our particular frame to view their lives.