Self-love in a diverse world is a noticeable trend in the range of new Australian books. “You’re brown, Belle!” says one child to another in Wide Big World, an exuberant book from author Maxine Beneba Clarke and illustrator Isobel Knowles in which kinder kids and their teacher discuss the ways in which they are different. I Love Me by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina features bright cartoons of Indigenous kids and encourages readers to be their own biggest fans. Meanwhile, Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys’ All the Ways to be Smart celebrates creativity and emotional intelligence. … [Read more...] about Why are Australian children’s books suddenly so political?
In practice, prolonged silence has powerful effects on the individual. On the one hand, there is blissful happiness, an intensification of taste and other senses. On the other, there are hallucinations, madness and (tangentially) death. Then there are the more subtle effects: disinhibition, or an "unskinning" of the self; a disregard of societal norms (this goes hand in hand with minimal personal grooming); confusions of time, space and even memory; the torpor of accidie, sister of depression and characterised by a "dead feeling ... a vacuum of hell"; and its opposite, rigorous busyness. … [Read more...] about A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland
What is the minimum necessary amount of activity for a modern industrial society to continue to function? One answer to that is to classify certain citizens as “key workers”: people who work in health, food, transport, utilities, and so forth. Though this phrase has the doomy smell of modern bureaucratic jargon (as in key stakeholders, key performance indicators, and the like), it is actually more than a century old. … [Read more...] about ‘Key worker’: how a 19th century term evolved into political rhetoric
The subtitle of this new biography is problematic. She may have been "the iron lady" of Israel but she was most emphatically not a lady of the Arab people. Indeed, far from being a regional icon, Meir personified the most paranoid, aggressive and racist attitudes of the Zionist movement when it came to dealing with the Arabs. She was afraid of Arabs, and her fears were fuelled by personal memories of pogroms and by the collective Jewish trauma of the Holocaust. Meir's position was simple: them or us. She absolutely refused to accept that the Arabs were moved by a sense of injustice, that they felt humiliated, or that they had a different narrative of the conflict in Palestine. … [Read more...] about The face that launched a thousand MiGs
The whole thing began around 1985 when I read a book called Endless Enemies, by g. It's an analysis of US foreign policy that lays bare the business of governments making enemies by overruling the autonomy of developing nations, much the way a condescending parent would rule a child. The analogy struck me as novelesque: a study of this persistent human flaw – arrogance masquerading as helpfulness – could be a personal story that also functioned as allegory. The story of the CIA-backed coup in the Congo in 1960 struck me as the heart of darkness in a nutshell. I began to imagine a household of teenaged daughters under the insufferable rule of an autocratic father, as a microcosm of the Congolese conflict. And what if I placed them in the Congo, right at the moment when it's trying to throw off colonial rule? The characters would be ignorant of the political drama around them, but the reader would see everything. … [Read more...] about Barbara Kingsolver on The Poisonwood Bible – Guardian book club