Bones on the Ground
Elizabeth O'Maley Indiana Historical Society Press, 2014 Library of Congress E81.O45 2014 | Dewey Decimal 970.00497
What happened to the Indians of the Old Northwest Territory? Conflicting portraits emerge and answers often depend on who’s telling the story, with each participant bending and stretching the truth to fit their own view of themselves and the world. This volume presents biographical sketches and first-person narratives of Native Americans, Indian traders, Colonial and American leaders, and events that shaped the Indians’ struggle to maintain possession of their tribal lands in the face of the widespread advancement of white settlement.
It covers events and people in the Old Northwest Territory from before the American Revolution through the removal of the Miami from Indiana in 1846. As America’s Indian policy was formed, and often enforced by the U.S. military, and white settlers pushed farther west, some Indians fought the white intruders, while others adopted their ways. In the end, most Indians were unable to hold their ground, and the evidence of their presence now lingers only in found relics and strange-sounding place names.
Britta Böhler Haus Publishing, 2015 Library of Congress PT5882.12.O49B5713 2015 | Dewey Decimal 833.92
This intriguing novel follows German author Thomas Mann during three crucial days in 1936. Away in Switzerland and fearing arrest by the Nazis upon his return to Germany, Mann must choose whether to travel back to Munich. He decides to release an open letter to the regime in a Swiss newspaper but is then tortured by doubt: his Jewish publisher in Germany will be furious with the unwelcome attention Mann’s letter is sure to bring, and by choosing exile, isn’t the writer abandoning his loyal readers back home? Will the Nazis burn his books? Will they confiscate his diaries, which include intimate, homoerotic confessions?
Britta Böhler shows us one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers as a family man, a father, a writer, and a man with moral doubts. We see a human soul trapped in a historical setting that forces him to make a seemingly impossible choice. A convincing depiction of a dilemma addressed only sparsely in Mann’s own writings, The Decision eloquently explores the all-too-human price of confronting totalitarianism.
A fast-paced romp through apartheid-era South Africa that exemplifies the creative human capacity to overcome seemingly omnipotent enemies and overwhelming odds.
The picaresque hero of this novel, Duggie, is a dispossessed black street kid turned con man. Duggie’s response to being confined to the lowest level of South Africa’s oppressive and humiliating racial hierarchy is to one-up its absurdity with his own glib logic and preposterous schemes. Duggie’s story, as one critic puts it, offers “an encyclopedic catalogue of rip-offs, swindles, and hoaxes” that regularly land him in jail and rely on his white targets’ refusal to admit a black man is capable of outsmarting them.
Duggie exploits South Africa’s bureaucratic pass laws and leverages his artificial leg every chance he gets. As “a worthless embarrassment to the authorities and a bad example to the convicts,” Duggie even manages to get himself thrown out of jail. From Duggie’s Depression-era childhood in urban Johannesburg to World War II and the rise of the white supremacist apartheid regime to his final, bitter triumph, Boetie’s narrative celebrates humanity’s relentless drive to survive at any cost.
This new edition of Boetie’s out-of-print classic features a recently discovered photograph of the author, an introduction replete with previously unpublished research, numerous annotations, and is accompanied by Lionel Abrahams’ haunting poem, “Soweto Funeral,” composed after attending Boetie’s interment, all of which render the text accessible to a new generation of readers.
Lady in Ermine: The Story of a Woman Who Painted the Renaissance reveals the discovery of an historic figure who embodies the struggle of women throughout the ages while immersing the reader in the sixteenth century world of the Renaissance figures she paints.
As a girl in Lombardy, Sofonisba Anguissola trains to paint with mannerist masters, and though society frowns upon women having such ambition, Sofonisba’s father unwaveringly encourages her. A royal tour by Prince Philip of Spain inspires her lifelong dream: to perfect the king’s portrait and show his truth on canvas, the highest calling for a Renaissance portraitist. Her drive to vindicate her loving father, a bastard of nobility, propels her. Politics of the Spanish empire brings Sofonisba to the heart of the royal court in Madrid. She aspires to achieve her goal while others at court work to undermine her as a female artist. Tragedy unfolds in the royal household, but in the process, Sofonisba finds her opportunity to paint the King of Spain, honoring her family name with her success. In life after court, Sofonisba navigates two marriages, royal appointments, love, hardship, and bankruptcy, while leaving a legacy of hundreds of paintings and influencing generations of artists from Anthony van Dyck to Peter Paul Rubens. This is her story.
Paradise, for the skeptic Mohammed Afifi, was just four steps down from his porch into a sunny garden. There he would sit, morning and evening, in the shadow of Tamaara, his beloved tamarhinna tree, soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells of his precious corner of the natural world. From an old yellow straw chair, Afifi would train his perceptive gaze on that garden in all its detail. Flora and fauna blessed him with honorary membership in their enchanted realm. Only the rare downpours of winter and the dust storms of spring could banish him indoors. Yet, whether inspired at the side of the heater, purring black cat on his lap, or next to the pansy bed, with ecstatic flocks of bee-eaters overhead, Afifi’s intimate, whimsical musings radiate a profound and unique sense of place.
Lisa J. White’s nuanced translation of Taramiim fii Dhill Taraara captures Afifi’s impish, ironic sense of humor and his unsparing honesty. She handles Afifi’s parting gift to the world with great care and honor. Mohammed Afifi died in 1981, in winter, just after completing this fictionalized memoir. Majestic and melancholy, mysterious and magical—the essence of his world, Afifi’s extraordinary garden, is here revealed to the English-speaking world.
Love and Fatigue in America
Roger King University of Wisconsin Press, 2012 Library of Congress PR6061.I473Z46 2012 | Dewey Decimal 823.914
When an Englishman receives an invitation from an American university, he embraces it as a jubilant new beginning. Instead, on arrival, he is stricken with a persistent inability to stand up or think straight. Diagnosed with ME disease—also called chronic fatigue syndrome—he moves restlessly across his newly adopted country, searching for a love and a life suited to his new condition. Love and Fatigue in America briskly compresses an illness, a nation, and an era in a masterly blend of literary forms.
My Father’s Books
Luan Starova; Translated by Christina E. Kramer University of Wisconsin Press, 2012 Library of Congress PG1196.29.T37A313 2012 | Dewey Decimal 891.8193
In My Father’s Books, the first volume in Luan Starova’s multivolume Balkan Saga, he explores themes of history, displacement, and identity under three turbulent regimes—Ottoman, Fascist, and Stalinist—in the twentieth century. Weaving a story from the threads of his parents’ lives from 1926 to 1976, he offers a child’s-eye view of personal relationships in shifting political landscapes and an elegiac reminder of the enduring power of books to sustain a literate culture.
Through lyrical waves of memory, Starova reveals his family’s overlapping religious, linguistic, national, and cultural histories. His father left Constantinople as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and the young family fled from Albania to Yugoslav Macedonia when Luan was a boy. His parents, cosmopolitan and well-traveled in their youth, and steeped in the cultures of both Orient and Occident, find themselves raising their children in yet another stagnant and repressive state. Against this backdrop, Starova remembers the protected spaces of his childhood—his mother’s walled garden, his father’s library, the cupboard holding the rarest and most precious of his father’s books. Preserving a lost heritage, these books also open up a world that seems wide, deep, and boundless.
It is 1942. Shanghai after Pearl Harbor. Newly-arrived Eiko Kishimoto, a twenty-year-old, London-educated Japanese housewife, settles into a privileged existence in the French Concession as a member of the community of the Occupying Power. Initially, her days are filled with high society lunches and dinners, race course and night club visits and open-air summer concerts, amidst an ebullient and remarkably cosmopolitan society that makes up Shanghai. But all is by no means what it seems. As war progresses, and Japan tightens its control within China, tensions mount, relationships unravel, and allegiances are questioned. It is not long before Eiko awakens to the meaning and implications of occupation for both her international friends and for Japanese civilians. Even her settled domestic life, with a growing family and close proximity to her beloved older sister, is threatened as Japan’s war efforts become more desperate and degenerate. Partly biographical – the author taking inspiration from her mother’s own war experiences in China – My Shanghai, 1942-1946 provides a fascinating insight into the Asia Pacific War as never told before, that is through the eyes of a young Japanese woman caught between her Christian values and loyalty to her country.
A shotgun misfires inside the American Fur Company store in Northern Michigan, and Alexis St. Martin's death appears imminent. It's 1822, and, as the leaders of Mackinac Island examine St. Martin's shot-riddled torso, they decide not to incur a single expense on behalf of the indentured fur trapper. They even go so far as to dismiss the attention of U.S. Army Assistant Surgeon William Beaumont, the frontier fort's only doctor.
Beaumont ignores the orders and saves the young man's life. What neither the doctor nor his patient understands—yet—is that even as Beaumont's care of St. Martin continues for decades, the motives and merits of his attention are far from clear. In fact, for what he does to his patient, Beaumont will eventually stand trial and be judged.
Rooted deeply in historic fact, Open Woundartfully fictionalizes the complex, lifelong relationship between Beaumont and his illiterate French Canadian patient. The young trapper's injury never completely heals, leaving a hole into his stomach that the curious doctor uses as a window to understand the mysteries of digestion. Eager to rise up from his humble origins and self-conscious that his medical training occurred as an apprentice to a rural physician rather than at an elite university, Beaumont seizes the opportunity to experiment upon his patient's stomach in order to write a book that he hopes will establish his legitimacy and secure his prosperity. As Jason Karlawish portrays him, Beaumont, always growing hungrier for more wealth and more prestige, personifies the best and worst aspects of American ambition and power.
Scattered Crumbs: A Novel
Muhsin Al-ramli University of Arkansas Press, 2003 Library of Congress PJ7860.A585A25 2003 | Dewey Decimal 892.737
Set in an Iraqi village during the Iran-Iraq war, Scattered Crumbs critiques a totalitarian dictatorship through the stories of an impoverished peasant family. A father, a fierce supporter of Saddam Hussein—here called only “The Leader”—clashes with his artist son, who loves his homeland but finds himself literally unable to paint the Leader's portrait for his father's wall. The narrator remembers the disintegration of his family as he leaves the village to search for his cousin, even as he realizes that the only thing he really knows of this cousin is his absence. Translator Hanoosh says that the novel “evokes the processes of deterioration undergone both by the country and by the individual characters caught up in the maelstrom.” Scattered Crumbs was first published in Arabic in Cairo in 2000. This translation captures the subtle sarcasm of the original text and its elliptical rhythms.
Silent Life and Silent Language presents a fictionalized account of life at a Midwestern residential school for deaf students in the years following the Civil War. Based on the experiences of the author, who became deaf at the age of nine and entered a residential school when she was twelve, this historical work is remarkable and rare because it focuses on signing deaf women’s lives. One of only a few accounts written by deaf women in the 19th century, Silent Life and Silent Language gives a detailed description of daily life and learning at the Indiana Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb.
Kate M. Farlow wrote this book with the goal of giving hearing parents hope that their deaf children would be able to lead happy and productive lives. She sought to raise awareness of the benefits of deaf schools and was an early advocate for the use of American Sign Language and of bilingual education. The Christian influence on the school and on the author is strongly present in her writing and reflects an important component of deaf education at the time. Descriptions of specific signs, games, ASL story nights, and other aspects of the signing community during the 1870s will be of interest to modern students and researchers in linguistics, deaf education, Deaf studies, and Deaf history. Farlow’s work reveals a sophisticated, early understanding of the importance of access to language, education, and community for deaf individuals.
In this historical narrative, Swedish novelist Agneta Pleijel follows the lives of two ancestors, a sister and brother, each of whom played a role in the cultural life of Stockholm in the 19th century. Using old letters, records, and stories passed down through her family, Pleijel imagines the lives of her great-grandfather, Albert Berg (1832–1916), and his younger sister, Helena Berg Petre (1834–1880), who were born into a prominent musical family. Albert was born deaf, dashing his father’s hopes of a musical career for him. He was sent to Stockholm’s Manilla School for the Deaf, where he learned sign language. He later studied art and became a painter of seascapes. His interest in improving the lives of deaf people led him to become an advocate for the Deaf community and to cofound the Stockholm Deaf Association.
Helena showed early musical talent and, trained by her father, was a gifted singer. She lived in Paris for a time and enjoyed popular success. She fell in love with a musician but was plunged into despair when he died from cholera. Her father persuaded her to give up singing and marry a cold industrialist, who was one of the wealthiest men in Sweden, in order to provide financial support for the family. Helena struggled in the loveless marriage and battled depression throughout her life.
Despite their disparate lives, Albert and Helena faced similar struggles with communication, autonomy, and self-determination. Albert’s story traces the development of his own sense of identity as well as the development of Swedish Deaf culture, while Helena’s life reflects the silencing and oppression endured by women. In Sister and Brother, Pleijel’s literary treatment of their lives sheds light on the cultural and social norms that shaped the experiences of deaf people and women in the 19th century.
A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of 2018 (Outstanding Merit selection) • Finalist, 2018 Ohioana Book Award
Long before she wrote The House of Dies Drear, M. C. Higgins, the Great, and many other children’s classics, Virginia Hamilton grew up among her extended family near Yellow Springs, Ohio, where her grandfather had been brought as a baby through the Underground Railroad. The family stories she heard as a child fueled her imagination, and the freedom to roam the farms and woods nearby trained her to be a great observer. In all, Hamilton wrote forty-one books, each driven by a focus on “the known, the remembered, and the imagined”—particularly within the lives of African Americans.
Over her thirty-five-year career, Hamilton received every major award for children’s literature. This new biography gives us the whole story of Virginia’s creative genius, her passion for nurturing young readers, and her clever way of crafting stories they’d love.