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The author of the Harry Potter series of novels, JK Rowling, has disappointed many of her fans by signing a letter opposing a boycott of Israel. The letter, which was also signed by other British cultural figures, such as TV presenter Melvyn Bragg, popular historian Tom Holland and author Hilary Mantel, proclaims its support for what it called “an independent UK network” called Culture for Coexistence.
Inside/Outside — Six Plays from Palestine & the Diaspora Edited by Naomi Wallace & Ismail Khalidi TGC Books, 2015 Sykes-Picot: The Legacy Edited by Kenneth Pickering Arts Canteen, 2015 There is a long tradition of drama in Palestinian culture, but it is not a written one. This point is made by Nathalie Handal in her excellent and detailed introduction to Inside/Outside, a collection of Palestinian plays. Palestinian theatre was — and continues to be — created through collective improvisation. It has its roots in oral storytelling traditions.
Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis By Tim Flannery Text Publishing, 2015 245 pages Australian scientist Tim Flannery became fascinated with proposals to extract excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and oceans when the billionaire aeronautics carbon-polluter Richard Branson, in response to Flannery's first book on climate change, The Weather Makers, invited Flannery to be a judge on Branson's £25 million Virgin Earth Challenge prize for methods of carbon withdrawal and storage.
Henning Mankell, the creator of the Swedish detective Wallander and activist for Palestinian and African rights, died at home on October 5 aged 67. He had been diagnosed with cancer early last year. Many fans of crime fiction will remember Mankell best for his Wallander novels — dark Scandinavian crime stories featuring a cynical, aging detective. Yet his stand for Palestinian rights is also an important part of his legacy.
Henning Mankell, the creator of the Swedish detective Wallander and activist for Palestinian and African rights, died at home on October 5 aged 67. He had been diagnosed with cancer early last year. Many fans of crime fiction will remember Mankell best for his Wallander novels — dark Scandinavian crime stories featuring a cynical, aging detective. Yet his stand for Palestinian rights is also an important part of his legacy.
The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to the US Empire Verso, 2015 624 pages, hardback George Orwell said: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” These are dark times, in which the propaganda of deceit touches all our lives. It is as if political reality has been privatised and illusion legitimised. The information age is a media age. We have politics by media; censorship by media; war by media; retribution by media; diversion by media — a surreal assembly line of clichés and false assumptions.
Books are lives compressed, humanity summarised into screaming or striking stories. One would think the book world would be a safe haven from inequality. But instead the traditional publishing industry — the big corporate publishers — is perpetuating prejudice and limiting ideas by elevating certain authors, characters, and thoughts above all others, with significant social consequences.
A World to Build: New Paths Toward Twenty-First Century Socialism Marta Harnecker Monthly Review Press, 2015 US$19, paperback The emergence of diverse, complex and popular social projects in Latin America — several of which have involved winning governmental power —- is arguably the most important phenomenon shaping radical politics in the 21st century. The political practices of popular movements and political parties engaged in these revolutionary projects can inspire and educate radicals and activists all over the world.
Mrs Engels By Gavin McCrea Scribe, 2015 352 pp, $29.99 For those hankering to know what Communist Manifesto co-author Frederick Engels’ erect penis looked like, page 37 of this novel is for you. “In its vigours, it points up and a bit to the side,” says Lizzie Burns, the first-person narrator of the entire story. Gavin McCrea’s Burns is a brilliant narrative voice, and his writing sparkles. Burns’s rich brogue and incisive humour are wonderful.
R&R: A Novel By Mark Dapin Viking, 2015, 287 pp, $32.99 Mark Dapin is a rising star of Australian writing, having first made his mark as a journalist with a string of newspapers. He is a knock-about sort of working-class bloke, who brushed up against the British socialist movement before migrating, a bit of a boxer as well as a writer. Interviewing the light welterweight world champion Kostya Tszyu for the Sydney Morning Herald, Dapin famously persuaded Tszyu to let him spar with him in the ring. Tszyu didn’t muck about, breaking three of Dapin’s ribs.

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