An important contribution to the literature of forced immigration and humanitarian crisis.

MY FOURTH TIME, WE DROWNED

SEEKING REFUGE ON THE WORLD'S DEADLIEST MIGRATION ROUTE

A powerful, horrific account of the rigors that African immigrants face in fleeing their homelands for sanctuary in Europe.

“You become cargo, a piece of meat, a being that loses humanity when you can no longer recognize the humanity of others around you.” So writes Hayden, the Africa correspondent for the Irish Times, regarding the global refugee crisis. The European Union has seemed of two minds about illegal immigration into its domain: Leaders lament the human rights implications the refugees underscore even as they put more effort into blocking the flow. “In 2018,” writes the author, “a study found that almost 1,000 kilometers of border walls had been erected by EU member states and states in the European Schengen travel area since the fall of the Berlin Wall nineteen years before.” Moreover, the EU has contracted with the Libyan government—such as it is in a time of civil war—to intercept refugees crossing the middle Mediterranean and house them in settlements that resemble concentration camps, one even bearing the nickname “Guantánamo.” In some cases, refugees are used as human shields, meant to deter attacks by rival warlords, often to no avail. Worse, many are forced into slavery, either in Libya or delivered into the hands of the Mafia in southern Italy and put to work on farms there. Hayden tells her story through deep exploration of legal papers, archives, and government data. Even more affective are her personal encounters and interviews with refugees themselves, whose situations, if anything, seem to be worsening. “Between 2014 and 2020,” she writes, “more than twenty thousand men, women, and children would die on the Mediterranean Sea,” while Europeans who try to assist them often became targets of legal prosecution. The narrative is consistently harrowing, revealing the complexities within a global crisis that lacks an easy solution, especially as the numbers of refugees mount.

An important contribution to the literature of forced immigration and humanitarian crisis.

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-61219-945-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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