Posted in Book review, Uncategorized

The man who climbs trees

The Man Who Climbs Trees

By James Aldred

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pub Date 22 May 2018

Source Netgalley

James Aldred climbs trees for a living. He scout’s out trees that provide the best camera angles. He is part of a team that produces those nature documentaries that we all love. This book explores his relationship with trees. He narrates those episodes in his life that inspired his love of trees before outlining his journey to his current position. He then sketches some filming assignments, giving beautifully descriptive accounts; of the trees and nature that he encountered on his journey, the extraordinary lengths that he takes to get those shots, and the sometimes nerve jangling wild encounters that happened throughout his career. Part memoir, part nature log, this book is, above all other things, a love letter to trees and the nature that they help support

Posted in awards

Man Booker International prize longlist

The 2018 Man Booker International prize longlist

I’ve been waiting for the list all morning and now it’s here

The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor (France, Chatto)

The Impostor by Javier Cercas, translated by Frank Wynne (Spain, MacLehose Press)

Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes, translated by Frank Wynne (France, MacLehose Press)

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky (Germany, Portobello Books)

The White Book by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith (South Korea, Portobello Books)

Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz, translated by Sarah Moses and Carolina Orloff (Argentina, Charco Press)

The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai, translated by John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet and George Szirtes (Hungary, Tuskar Rock Press)

Like a Fading Shadow by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by Camilo A Ramirez (Spain, Tuskar Rock Press)

The Flying Mountain by Christoph Ransmayr, translated by Simon Pare (Austria, Seagull Books)

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright (Iraq, Oneworld)

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft (Poland, Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi, translated by Darryl Sterk (Taiwan, Text Publishing)

The Dinner Guest by Gabriela Ybarra, translated by Natasha Wimmer
(Spain, Harvill Secker)

Posted in #women'sprize, awards

Women’s Prize for Fiction Announcing the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist – Women’s Prize for Fiction

The Women’s Prize for fiction has been announced

The longlisted books are as follows:

H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I wasn’t going to shadow read the list but now I see it, I am tempted. What about you, are you going to be reading the list?

Posted in arc, Book review, books

A good time to be a girl?

A Good Time to be a Girl

Helena Morrisey

Harper Collins 4th Estate

Publication date 8th February 2018

Source Netgalley

Looking over thirty-five years in business, Morrison informs the reader that she has seen a great deal of progress. More and more, women are achieving success in the business and civic arenas. She argues, however, that women still have a long way to go in their quest for equality. There are still too few women taking their seat either around the boardroom table or in the political chamber.

Moreover, she argues that women still face a dilemma when entering public life, a dilemma that pits her public life as a worker against her private life of wife and mother. She argues that many campaigns around gender equality are based on a belief that women, who wish to succeed in the public arena, should ape the lives of their male ycounterparts, disengaging themselves from the responsibilities of the private arena and devoting themselves entirely to the public, civic, sphere. This means that women may be either: excluded from high positions in public life, left feeling lonely without the comforts that a private life may bring, or exhausted by the need to juggle two full-time roles.

In addition, she argues, equality campaigns are often seen as women’s responsibility, a side issue that can be left on the margins a business discourse, one that men, who still hold most of the levers of power, can ignore. Therefore, issues of equality and the goals of achieving gender parity are often left at the bottom of organisations to be done list. Therefore the problem remains unresolved.

Moreover, she argues that we are travelling through turbulent times. Times that see: a Trump presidency, Brexit, the rise of neo-nazism, the backlash against women’s rights, and a growth in hate crimes.

However, far from being a negative time, this could be a time of opportunity. People are beginning to fight for what they are losing. In doing so, they are beginning to rethink the very nature of politics and business, asking; why are women left with the caring responsibilities, why can’t public and private responsibilities be shared so that men and women can play a role in both arenas, why are equality issues always marginalised and left in the hands of women?

This book looks at measures that Morrison has put in place, both in her private and public life, to begin to challenge the inequalities to be found within the business world. She argues that the key is including men, both in the fight to bring women into the public arena and the private world that women leave behind.

These are not new ideas. Feminists have been advocating for this for a long time. But, it is good to see them articulated, so clearly, by a woman who lives these dilemmas every day and is actively fighting for gender parity. It is a must read.

Posted in Book review

Briti (ish) Afua Hirsch

Briti (ish)

Afua Hirsch

Jonathan Cape

Publication date 01 February 2018

Source Netgalley

The author outlines her personal journey to find her own identity. She explains how she dealt with being different from the homogenized white community in which she grew up, a community that discouraged any discussion of her; Blackness, her racial culture, or the history of that culture within the British Isles. She speaks of how this neglect was mirrored in most of her education. The author explores her search for belonging, speaking of her travels through various African countries and how these journeys left her confused and uncertain where she belonged.

In addition, she narrates her library journeys into Black history and she uses this reading to brilliant effect in this book, backgrounding her personal narrative with an academic, journalistic, examination of Britain’s relationship with race, slavery, and its Black citizens. Using the work of Peter Fryer and other Black British writers, she examines the; past, present, and future of race relations within Britain. She argues that this country has suffered amnesia when it comes to its pivotal role within slavery. The author argues that as a society we show an ignorance concerning Black peoples’ role within British culture. In addition, she argues that we often misrepresent the current state of race relations in Britain today.

She then explores the differences within the black experience by comparing her own privileged upbringing, which had all the material advantages but was disconnected to her black roots and culture, with that of her partner who had none of her material privileges but was, and is, very grounded within his Black culture. She extends this narrative with an exploration of other mixed race individuals. This book mixes; personal narrative, with academic rigour, and a journalistic writing style to offer a compelling look at Britain today. It is a must read.

Posted in Review, reviews, Uncategorized

Crafting campaigns

Sarah Corbett

How to be a craftivist

Unbound (please note that I was originally gifted an arc from the publisher via netgalley but I loved it that much that I brought my own copy)

Unraveling the problem

Coming from a political family, I have always been political. Moreover, I took women’s studies, and took part in many campaigns, during my time at university. In addition, I work, as a volunteer, with the RNIB and Oxfam, on the campaigns that matter to me. As a disabled person, those activities have recently taken on a greater urgency. So, my campaigning life has become busier and more intense.

Recently, therefore I have been feeling tired, disillusioned, and unfocused. I am finding it hard to know where to spend my campaigning energies; which campaigns to prioritise when they all seem so important.

We live in turbulent times; Trump in the White House, Brexit, sexual abuse scandals, police violence, the deaths of black men, hate crimes against marginalized groups, global warming, and austerity still ruining peoples lives. The list goes on and on. This has led many campaigners, including the author of this blog, to feel tired and dispirited.

Sarah Corbett, mirroring my own concerns, speaks of the tendency of campaigners to spread themselves too thinly; to feel that they have to be everywhere, doing everything, fighting every battle. This leads to the temptation to cut corners and to complete tasks that can be undertaken quickly. These methods are often unsuccessful, leaving the campaigners angry and disillusioned.

Moreover, the author states that campaigners, often driven by anger, react in a knee jerk manner to situations that arise. This, Corbet tells us, can often lead to mistakes and knee-jerk actions can often lead to negative outcomes.

Crafting a solution

Sarah instructs us, not just to react to negative situations as they arise, but rather, to think about the world we wish to craft. In my case, that world would be one in which disabled people and other marginalized groups; would feel safe, able to live a productive life, have our voices heard, and live in a manner that respects both other people and the world in which we live.

Corbett argues that campaigners need to take a step back and think about; what campaigns they focus on, why they feel the need to campaign, where their skills can be best utilized, and what methods will get the best outcomes. We need to ensure, often in consultation with those individuals who we are seeking to help, that our campaigns will have a positive impact on the issues that we care about.

The author, also, challenges campaigners to break their addiction to quick campaign methods, i.e; the online petition and template letter. Campaigners are instructed to slow down our campaigning; to take time to craft methods that will create the best possible outcomes. For example, she argues that we should get to know our representatives and personalize our interactions with them.

This book came at exactly the right time for me and, while I will not take her every suggestion on board, I will slow down, both my writing and campaigning. I will see my writing as part of my campaigning. I will take time to write letters that engage the reader and not simply send a template letter or sign a petition. I will take time on my reviews, and other writing. If the book is good enough to write about, I should give it the time it deserves. If the issue is important enough to raise passion, I should be able to express my passions in a manner that engages the reader. The arguments contained within this book are too broad and too deep to express in a short post. Therefore, I have picked the bits that spoke to me and left other sections for the reader to find on their own. For example, I have left out any discussion of craft. You should really get hold of a copy and read it. I highly recommend this book.