Monday, April 16, 2012

Two Books

It's been a busy day and won't end until 9 pm. or so. So, here's a quick post about two books I'm reading.

First is Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes. I'm finding it very moving, but I'm not sure if that's because the subject matter is such that almost any competent writer describing the tragedy of slavery could make it compelling. Regardless, I'd recommend it.
Stunning, wrenching and inspiring, the fourth novel by Canadian novelist Hill (Any Known Blood) spans the life of Aminata Diallo, born in Bayo, West Africa, in 1745. The novel opens in 1802, as Aminata is wooed in London to the cause of British abolitionists, and begins reflecting on her life. Kidnapped at the age of 11 by British slavers, Aminata survives the Middle Passage and is reunited in South Carolina with Chekura, a boy from a village near hers. Her story gets entwined with his, and with those of her owners: nasty indigo producer Robinson Appleby and, later, Jewish duty inspector Solomon Lindo. During her long life of struggle, she does what she can to free herself and others from slavery, including learning to read and teaching others to, and befriending anyone who can help her, black or white. Hill handles the pacing and tension masterfully, particularly during the beginnings of the American revolution, when the British promise to free Blacks who fight for the British: Aminata's related, eventful travels to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone follow. In depicting a woman who survives history's most trying conditions through force of intelligence and personality, Hill's book is a harrowing, breathtaking tour de force. (Nov.)
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I'm also reading Waste: uncovering the global food scandal by Tristram Stuart. It's turning out to be damned important. Harrowing and hopeful all at the same time.
The food crisis, which was back in the news again last week, may not be quite what you expected. Global agricultural systems are struggling to feed all seven billion of us, but the biggest problem isn’t yields or climate change, and it may not be biofuels or speculation or rising meat consumption, although all of those are factors. The biggest problem may actually be waste. That’s Tristram Stuart‘s argument. In the UK, we throw away a third of the food that we buy, and that’s just household waste. More is thrown away by the supermarkets, the suppliers, the manufacturers, or never even harvested.
That's all folks!

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