Fabulous Fiction Firsts #283

South Asia Bureau Chief of The New York Times Amy Waldman's The Submission * * * is "a dazzling, kaleidoscopic" debut novel that re-imagines the aftermath of 9/11, at once "piercing and resonant."

When the winner of a high-profiled competition to design a memorial for victims of a terrorist attack is revealed to be Mohammad "Mo" Khan, an American born Muslim architect, instantly everyone has an opinion and a need to debate the selection.

Claire Burwell, the self-possessed widow on the jury and Mo's fiercest defender finds herself pressured by outraged family members. Journalist Alyssa is desperate to capitalize on the controversy. Families of the victims struggle with grief and remembrance while weighing the moral quandaries of doing the right thing. No one was prepared that Mo's submission of a garden design meant "to provide a way for the families, the nation to mourn and to remember all that was lost ... and also to heal" would become the catalyst that divides a nation.

While there is no shortage of post 9/11 fiction, " Waldman fluidly blends her reporter's skill at rapid-fire storytelling with a novelist's gift for nuanced characterization. She dares readers to confront their own complicated prejudices steeped in faith, culture, and class. This is an insightful, courageous, heartbreaking work that should be read, discussed, then read again."

* * * = Starred reviews

Dan Savage Loves Libraries

“I want to emphasize the subversiveness that I think you librarians have by providing access to this information.” Dan Savage, author of several books and creator of the Savage Love column and podcast, spoke at the annual ALA conference in New Orleans last Friday. Savage praised libraries for providing critical access to information and resources for all people, even (and especially) when that information is controversial. He recalled his own days as a teenager when he would go to the Chicago Public Library to find answers to the questions he had about his developing sexuality. Savage stated that libraries are often the only resource troubled kids have to look for the answers to questions that they don’t trust their parents or peers with.

Access to information is a very personal subject to Dan Savage, who created the It Gets Better Project, an internet-based project with the goal of reaching out to depressed and suicidal LGBT youth. The project was designed to reach isolated young people who are dealing with bullying, abuse, hostile parents, or oppressive communities, all because of their (real or perceived) sexual identities. Thousands of grown-up LGBT people, celebrities, and organizations have contributed supportive videos to the project, all with the message that life is going to get better for these kids. Savage has also released a collection of essays in a book, It Gets Better, with contributing authors such as David Sedaris, Tim Gunn, Ellen Degeneres, Suze Orman, President Barack Obama, and tons more. Check out the book or BOCD at AADL, or visit the It Gets Better Project’s website at www.itgetsbetter.org.

June 25th--Act of Grace: A Conversation with Karen Simpson and Robbie Ransom

On Saturday, June 25th authors Karen Simpson and Robbie Ransom will discuss their new book Act of Grace from 5:00 to 6:30 PM at the University of Michigan's North Quad, room 2435. Act of Grace explores the story of Grace Johnson, an African American from Michigan who saves the life of a Klan member named Jonathan Gilmore--and the controversy which follows. Simpson and Ransom are both Michigan residents and graduates of Eastern Michigan University well known for their work in gender and cultural studies. The discussion is free and open to the public, and is presented by the Author’s Forum, a collaboration between the U-M Institute for the Humanities, University Library, Great Lakes Literary Arts Center, and the Ann Arbor Book Festival. Don't miss the discussion on this amazing story of forgiveness!

For the official UM Library event posting, click here.

Triangle Waist Factory Fire of 1911

triangletriangle

Today (March 25) marks the 100-year anniversary of the deadly Triangle Waist Factory Fire in New York City which claimed 146 lives, mostly of young immigrant workers; and to this day, ranks as one of the worst disasters in labor history.

Located in the Asch Building, at northern corner of Washington Square,The Triangle Waist Company was in many ways a typical sweatshop - low wages, excessively long hours, and unsanitary and dangerous working conditions. Check out the story at the Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations archival and research resources that include eyewitness accounts, victim list, and photo images.

Over the years, the fire has been the subject for documentary filmmakers, historians and novelists. Best among them is award-winning author Katharine Weber's Triangle* * (2007).

Esther Gottesfeld is the last living survivor of the fire where 150 workers died in the sweatshop inferno. Even though she has told her story countless time, her death at the age of 106 leaves unanswered many questions about what happened that fateful day - the day she lost her sister and her fiance, the day her life changed forever.

Esther's granddaughter, Rebecca, and George, her partner, a prizewinning composer, seek to unravel the facts of the matter, while at the same time Ruth Zion, a zealous Triangle fire historian, bores in on them with her own mole-like agenda.

"As in a symphony, the true story of what happened at the Triangle factory is declared in the first notes - yet it is fully revealed only when we've heard it all the way through to its find chords."

* * = Starred reviews

Generations United?

American society is getting older. As people live longer and families become smaller, relationships among the generations are going through big adjustments. In the depressed economy older people are working longer, which affects young people looking for jobs right out of college. Older adults, living longer healthier lives, want to do more with that precious bequest of time. UM Psychology Professor Toni Antonucci will help us understand these powerful processes at the Downtown Library on Wed., March 23 with her talk “Social Relations: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” She may even mention social media along with the other recent agents of change.

Professor Toni Antonucci | Wednesday, March 23 | 7-8:30 pm | Downtown Library MPR

Nonprofits: NEW helping boards make a difference

Check out five (5!) workshops being offered this winter and spring by Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW). On March 9, there is "Board Member Training: Serving on a Nonprofit Board," followed March 17 by "Your Board Members as Ambassadors and Fundraisers." Later in March will be "Nonprofit Training: Building Your Board" and "Spring Into Service: A Board Matching Event for Nonprofit Organizations." Finally in early April, a workshop is scheduled on "Starting Off Right: Board Member Orientation." Details are here. Don't forget AADL also has a collection of nonprofit resources on the second floor of the downtown library.

Author's Forum: The Protest Psychosis

A conversation with Jonathan Metzl, Derek Griffith and Gregory Dalack -- all of the U-M faculty -- is coming up Wednesday Jan. 19 at 5:30 pm in Hatcher Graduate Library, Library Gallery. This Author's Forum is called "The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease." In his book The Protest Psychosis, author Metzl writes about how schizophrenia became the diagnostic term overwhelmingly applied to African American men at the Ionia State Hospital and how that mirrored national trends linking civil rights, blackness, and mental illness.

Untouchable

Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand is the story of a young man named Bakha, an “Untouchable”. As an Untouchable, Bakha is of the lowest caste in Indian society and works as a sweeper and latrine cleaner. But Bakha longs for a life free from the daily abuses inflicted by the higher classes. He must walk down the street announcing his presence because he cannot touch – by accident or no – a member of the higher classes, for they shall be “polluted.” He may not enter a temple or a school, for the building shall then be polluted as well. Bakha endures insults such as “pig” and “filth” day to day, and he and his family live in utter poverty. There seems to be no end in sight, but there is a glimmer of hope in one man might inspire change in India. A beautiful book.

Untouchable, a work of historical fiction, was first published in 1935, during the British Raj (reign) before the Indian Independence Act of 1947. Today, many Untouchables are now self-described as “Dalits”, and integrate less noticeably into urban areas, having more employment and education opportunities. Although the Indian Constitution outlaws caste discrimination, in rural areas, some discrimination still survives. The following are some non-fiction titles relating to India and the caste system in history:

Untouchables: One Family's Triumphant Journey Out Of The Caste System In Modern India

Caste: At Home In Hindu India

The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives In The Victorian Raj

The Hindus : : An Alternative History

Incarceration: Helping Prisoners Survive

Are we incarcerating too many people? How are we actually treating them? These are a few of the many tough questions surrounding American prisons. U-M faculty member Buzz Alexander has a new book, "Is William Martinez Not Our Brother?: Twenty Years of the Prison Creative Arts Project," in which he describes U-M's Prison Creative Arts Project. The project provides university courses, a nonprofit organization, and a national network for incarcerated youth and adults in Michigan juvenile facilities and prisons. Alexander will speak about his book Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. in U-M Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, followed by a book sale and signing.

Good Listening: Speaking of Faith

One of my favorite podcasts is Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett from American Public Media. Next month the show's name becomes "Krista Tippett on Being" -- and it sounds like Krista has more good shows planned. This summer, my favorite was her interview with Shane Claiborne, a 30-something social activist you can read about in Esquire magazine accessible in General Reference Center Gold.

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