Category Archives: politics

The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini is the story of a girl named Lindiwe growing up in 1980’s Zimbabwe under the new Mugabe government.

A mysterious tragedy occurs in the house next door – her neighbor is burned alive. The victim’s stepson, a white man named Ian is the prime suspect but is soon released. Lindiwe and Ian forge an unlikely friendship but circumstances and the deterioration of conditions in Zimbabwe threaten to divide them.

The Boy Next Door is about politics, race, corruption and love.

I haven’t finished this book yet. I’m intrigued by the plot and the setting of Zimbabwe as it’s been popping up in the news this past year. Some of the lingo is puzzling and is left without explanation for the reader to figure out but overall it does not impede the reader from enjoying the story.

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Three most popular books at Guantanamo

I have to say, I was pretty surprised when I read this article listing the three most popular book titles in the library at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Out of the 13,500 books available to the 229 prisoners, these 3 were most popular:

1. Harry Potter (series)

2.  Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

3.  Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama

First, I thought this was kind of cool because I’ve read all 3 books. (Okay, I attempted Don Quixote and didn’t quite finish it) … The article goes on to quote a lawyer who spoke with one of the prisoners as a potential client. The prisoner was a 36 year old Algerian man named Ali.

From the article:

I kept our conversation light. We spent a long time discussing the Harry Potter books, his favorite books at the Guantánamo library.

Ali sees parallels between George W. Bush and J.K. Rowling’s arch-villain, Voldemort. Guantánamo is the real-world equivalent of Azkaban, the cheerless prison guarded by the soulless “tormentors.”

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Indian Romance novel controversy

indiabk In India, a new genre of books are popping up that have many women rushing to stores and some politicians crying immorality.

The Romance novel is becoming popular among young Indian women, but in a country where kissing in films is censored, this industry will not flourish without a controversy.

Even so, Harlequin Enterprises and Random House have both set up shop.

The TimesOnline UK article notes that,

“Sociologists believe the explosion of risqué romantic fiction may herald an impending sexual revolution in India. “In the past even our fantasies were repressed,” said Shiv Vishwanathan, a sociology professor. “Now they are not and that makes a difference.”

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What is President Obama reading?

President Obama plans to read 5 books on his week long vacation. According to the White House, those books are:

“The Way Home” by George Pelecanos
“Hot, Flat, and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman
“Lush Life” by Richard Price
“Plainsong” by Kent Haruf
“John Adams” by David McCullough

Source: CNN.com


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America Libre

America_Libre Manolo “Mano” Suarez is a third generation Mexican American and patriotic former U.S. soldier who barely speaks Spanish. Unemployed in Los Angeles with a wife and three kids to support, Mano pays little attention to the civil and political unrest that erupts due to an accidental police shooting of a young Latina bystander during a drug bust, but when the situation snowballs into rioting and more deaths, he must protect his family.

As Latinos of all types; citizens and undocumented immigrants, white black and brown, rich and poor, are all put on lock down in official “Quarantine Zones” or shipped off to internment camps, Mano is drawn into the fight and forced to choose a side in the United States/Latino civil war.

The author, Raul Ramos y Sanchez, paints a frighteningly plausible future. America Libre is set in the near future, and reads at times like non-fiction. It is a reminder of the dangers of extremism on both sides of the fence, as well as a warning for those who would like to sweep the immigration debate under the rug.

I admire Ramos Y Sanchez for the obvious effort and research that was done in writing this novel. His knowledge of history, military and politics is evident by the plausible plot and realistic story telling. I can certainly imagine America Libre as an action film with a message, along the lines of Crash. (I’m “officially” recommending actor Ricardo Chavira for the part of Mano, Cameron Diaz for the part of Jo Herrera, and Paz Vega for the part of Mano’s wife… I have the entire movie cast in my head already! This book is begging to be be a screenplay.)

America Libre is available July 29, 2009. Ramos y Sanchez intends for this to be a trilogy which will include two more titles – El Nuevo Alamo (due out in 2010), and Pancho Land.

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Obama’s Blackberry

Obama’s Blackberry by Kasper Hauser is a hilarious quick read that gives us an inside look at what our President’s messages going back and forth might look like.

The authors have everyone’s personalities pegged and President Obama’s (ficticious) messages back and forth with Hillary, Bill, Michelle, Biden, Bush, his daughters and various world leaders, staff and celebrities will have you laughing out loud. The usernames alone are worth it.

This is definitely one of the funniest things I’ve read this year.

BidenMyTime: Hey U, whatcha doin?
BARACKO: M rly busy
BidenMyTime: Right :( Can I lv at 4:45?

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The Islamist

islamistWhen I was offered The Islamist by Ed Husain for review, I was hesitant to accept. Without knowing what it was about, the title put me off. Not knowing better, I thought that “Islamist” was an offensive word for “Muslim”, but after researching I discovered that these words refer to different groups. Without being too complicated, I’ll give my simple understanding.

A Muslim means “one who submits to God”, and is used to refer to a person who follows the religion of Islam.

An Islamist is a Muslim fundamentalist who does not follow Islam as a religion but uses it for politics.

We can argue semantics and such but this is a widely accepted interpretation.

So now that I understood what an “Islamist” was, I was ready to learn more. I wanted to be sure before investing my time in reading this book that it wouldn’t disparage Islam or Muslims. I was wary of the possibility that this book would perpetuate the myth that Islam is a violent religion and that all Muslims are terrorists, but in the end, I was pleased to find that it was not the case. On the contrary, this book should encourage all Muslims to stand up and recclaim their religion from extremists. (In fact, followers of all religions could and should take lessons away from this book about how religion can and is used for non-spiritual pursuits.)

The author, Ed Husain could have been considered an ordinary boy growing up as a first generation South Asian in London. The eldest of four children with a father from British India and mother from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Ed was raised Muslim, but as a teenager, his fanatiscism began to worry his parents. With a curious mind and a naive heart, he was easy prey for the various Islamist organizations. He soon found himself part of a world where the words “jihad” and “martyr” were part of every day conversations.

Eventually, Ed finds his way out and lives to tell about it. While some stretches of the book give so much detail that it gets a little dry, in the end his spiritual realizations make it well worth the journey.

The Islamist is a reminder to followers of all religions to be true to themselves, a warning to society of what can happen when youth struggle with a sense of belonging, and a much needed voice of truth amongst a world of lies and prejudice.

“Beware of extremism in religion; for it was extremism in religion that destroyed those that went before you.”

– The Prophet Mohammed (570-632) /The Islamist by Ed Husain

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