These are the books that influenced our worldview, or that we just found plain delightful.
Despite what culinary chauvinists claim, few cuisines have developed in isolation. The history of foodstuffs and food words is a history full of migration, adoption and constant civilizational mashups.
In a contemporary world plagued by xenophobia and racism, Gurnah’s novels nudge us to get quiet and listen, to probe beyond the surfaces of our understanding. We might ask why and with what burdens people find themselves crossing the gulfs between continents and cultures, in what peculiarities of personal experience they might locate their senses of themselves, and in what unanticipated places they might find belonging.
For Africans, the use of Arabic presents a dilemma: Without the historical role of Arabic, African writers would have been compelled to write in former colonial languages, but many also view the language as the medium of the slave trade that preceded trans-Atlantic slavery. Still, not everything magnificent on the continent must have originated elsewhere.
Much like native peoples in the U.S. have had to successfully balance their specific tribal identities within a larger pan-native identity so, too, the Bedouins of Jericho must negotiate between their identity as individual tribes, their larger identity as Bedouins and finally their national identity as Palestinians.
Ultimately, all the devil and his top demon want is to make a meaningful human connection. They feel tormented at the possibility that they may be incapable of such a thing after having spent eons in hell. And who could blame them?
It was a dark day. Like earlier generations, who remembered where they were when they learned of the great rock ’n’ roll deaths of the ’60s and ’70s, the moment we heard of Anthony Bourdain’s death will be forever etched in our minds.