Given the limited economic opportunities in rural Nepal, the desire of young men of all income and education levels, castes and ethnicities to migrate has never been higher. Crossing the Border to India provides an ethnography of male labor migration from the western hills of Nepal to Indian cities. Jeevan Sharma shows how a migrant’s livelihood and gender, as well as structural violence impacts his perceptions, experiences, and aspirations.
Based on long-term fieldwork, Sharma captures the actual experiences of crossing the border. He shows that Nepali migration to India does not just allow young men from poorer backgrounds to “save there and eat here,” but also offers a strategy to escape the more regimented social order of the village. Additionally, migrants may benefit from the opportunities offered by the “open-border” between India and Nepal to attain independence and experience a distant world. However, Nepali migrants are subjected to high levels of ill treatment. Thus, while the idea of freedom remains extremely important in Nepali men’s migration decisions, their actual experience is often met with unfreedom and suffering.
Josh Henneha has always been a traveler, drowning in dreams, burning with desires.
As a young boy growing up within the Muskogee Creek Nation in rural Oklahoma, Josh experiences a yearning for something he cannot tame. Quiet and skinny and shy, he feels out of place, at once inflamed and ashamed by his attraction to other boys. Driven by a need to understand himself and his history, Josh struggles to reconcile the conflicting voices he hears—from the messages of sin and scorn of the non-Indian Christian churches his parents attend in order to assimilate, to the powerful stories of his older Creek relatives, which have been the center of his upbringing, memory, and ongoing experience.
In his fevered and passionate dreams, Josh catches a glimpse of something that makes the Muskogee Creek world come alive. Lifted by his great-aunt Lucille’s tales of her own wild girlhood, Josh learns to fly back through time, to relive his people’s history, and uncover a hidden legacy of triumphs and betrayals, ceremonies and secrets he can forge into a new sense of himself.
When as a man, Josh rediscovers the boyhood friend who first stirred his desires, he realizes a transcendent love that helps take him even deeper into the Creek world he has explored all along in his imagination.
Interweaving past and present, history and story, explicit realism and dreamlike visions, Craig Womack’s Drowning in Fire explores a young man’s journey to understand his cultural and sexual identity within a framework drawn from the community of his origins. A groundbreaking and provocative coming-of-age story, Drowning in Fire is a vividly realized novel by an impressive literary talent.
Contemporary Africa is demographically characterized above all else by its youthfulness. In East Africa the median age of the population is now a striking 17.5 years, and more than 65 percent of the population is age 24 or under. This situation has attracted growing scholarly attention, resulting in an important and rapidly expanding literature on the position of youth in African societies.
While the scholarship examining the contemporary role of youth in African societies is rich and growing, the historical dimension has been largely neglected in the literature thus far. Generations Past seeks to address this gap through a wide-ranging selection of essays that covers an array of youth-related themes in historical perspective. Thirteen chapters explore the historical dimensions of youth in nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first–century Ugandan, Tanzanian, and Kenyan societies. Key themes running through the book include the analytical utility of youth as a social category; intergenerational relations and the passage of time; youth as a social and political problem; sex and gender roles among East African youth; and youth as historical agents of change. The strong list of contributors includes prominent scholars of the region, and the collection encompasses a good geographical spread of all three East African countries.
Originally published in 1929, I Thought of Daisy is the first of three novels by Edmund Wilson. Written while he was still balancing his ambitions as a novelist against a successful career in literary criticism, I Thought of Daisy marries Wilson's two vocations to create an unusual and revealing work of fiction.
I knew the secret as a child before anyone else did—that God planted the Garden of Eden just seventy-five kilometers south of Mexico City, near the town of Cuernavaca. He scattered seeds so only the most colorful flowers and the best climbing trees would grow in that semitropical paradise. He filled the stables with the fastest, strongest Arabians; mother’s aviary with more birds than anywhere else in the world. Then he constructed a wall twice as tall as Father and encircled our Eden to keep it safe. We named the garden the Hacienda of San Serafin. I swore that I would spend the rest of my life there, where nothing bad ever happens . . .
Captain Benjamín Nyman Vizcarra, son of the wealthiest man in Mexico, has everything a young man could want. But in the days leading up to the Mexican Revolution of 1910, he finds himself questioning whether he can support the old regime—and more and more distracted by his brother’s bewitching fiancee, Isabel. Setting out to expose her as a gold-digger, he instead falls deeply in love, setting himself on a path that leads to war, poverty, and alienation from his family.
Accused and convicted of his father’s murder after a fateful late-night encounter, Benjamín faces his inner demons, beginning a process that Swedenborg describes as regeneration. As he plots escape with a fellow prisoner, a Tarahumara Indian known only as El Brujo, he relives his love affair and eventual marriage to Isabel. A new question begins to form: will he run, or will he stay to confront his mistakes and win back the woman he loves?
A fresh and vivid translation of Flaubert’s influential bildungsroman
Gustave Flaubert conceived Sentimental Education, his final complete novel, as the history of his own generation, one that failed to fulfill the promise of the Revolution of 1848. Published a few months before the start of the 1870 Franco–Prussian War, it offers both a sweeping panorama of French society over three decades and an intimate bildungsroman of a young man from a small town who arrives in Paris when protests against the monarchy are increasing.
The novel’s protagonist, Frédéric Moreau, alternates between aimlessness and ambition as he searches for a meaningful life through love affairs and republican politics. Flaubert’s narrative includes scenes of high drama, as scattered protests across Paris swell into revolution, and quiet moments of self-aware romanticism, crafting a story that possesses the sweep and scope of a historical novel combined with deep emotion and scandalous intimacy. Suffused with tragedy and the poignancy of lost chances and wasted lives, Sentimental Education is sharpened by satirical observations of what Flaubert condemned as the Second Empire’s endemic hypocrisy and willful blindness.
This vibrant, new translation by Raymond N. MacKenzie includes an extensive critical introduction and annotations to help the modern reader appreciate Flaubert’s achievement. Sentimental Education intertwines the personal, the intimate, and the subjective with the political, social, and cultural, embedding Frédéric’s story in the larger arc of what Flaubert saw as France’s decline into mediocrity and imbecility in its politics and manners.
Setting the Lawn on Fire, the first novel by critically acclaimed writer Mack Friedman, trails its narrator through his obsessions with sex, drugs, art, and poison. Ivan, a young Jewish boy from Milwaukee, embarks on a journey of sexual discovery that leads him from Wisconsin to Alaska, Philadelphia, and Mexico through stints as a fishery worker, artist, and finally a hustler who learns to provide the blank canvas for other people’s dreams. The result is a new kind of coming-of-age story that sees passion from every angle because its protagonist is every kind of lover: the seducer and the seduced, the pornographer and the model, the hunter and the prey, the trick and the john. In the end, Setting the Lawn on Fire is also something rare—a fully realized, contemporary romance that illuminates the power of desire and the rituals of the body, the brain, and the heart that attempt to contain our passions.
In twentieth-century Kenya, age and gender were powerful cultural and political forces that animated household and generational relationships. They also shaped East Africans’ contact with and influence on emergent colonial and global ideas about age and masculinity. Kenyan men and boys came of age achieving their manhood through changing rites of passage and access to new outlets such as town life, crime, anticolonial violence, and nationalism. And as they did, the colonial government appropriated masculinity and maturity as means of statecraft and control.
In An Uncertain Age, Paul Ocobock positions age and gender at the heart of everyday life and state building in Kenya. He excavates in unprecedented ways how the evolving concept of “youth” motivated and energized colonial power and the movements against it, exploring the masculinities boys and young men debated and performed as they crisscrossed the colony in search of wages or took the Mau Mau oath. Yet he also considers how British officials’ own ideas about masculinity shaped not only young African men’s ideas about manhood but the very nature of colonial rule.
An Uncertain Age joins a growing number of histories that have begun to break down monolithic male identities to push the historiographies of Kenya and empire into new territory.
This classic coming-of-age novel, winner of the Lippincott Fiction Prize for Young Novelists in 1954, is a deliberately comic portrayal of "Mobile madness," a malady specific to the Gulf Coast but recognizable
Eugene Walter’s first novel, and winner of the 1954 Lippincott Fiction Prize for Young Novelists, is about a young man from a small central Alabama town who goes south of the “salt line” to Mobile to work in a bank and study law. As soon as this unnamed pilgrim arrives, he realizes that—although he is still in Alabama—he has entered a separate physical kingdom of banana trees and palm fronds, subtropical heat and humidity, and old houses and lacy wrought-iron balconies. In Mobile, Alabama, the town that can claim the oldest Mardi Gras in America, there is no Puritan work ethic; the only ruling forces are those of chaos, craziness, and caprice. Such forces overtake the pilgrim, seduce him away from the beaten career path, and set him on a zigzag course through life.
The Untidy Pilgrim celebrates the insularity as well as the eccentricity of southerners—and Mobilians, in particular—in the mid-twentieth century. Cut off from the national mainstream, they are portrayed as devoid of that particularly American angst over what to “do” and accomplish with one’s life, and indulge instead in art, music, cooking, nature, and love. In this novel Walter eschews the “gloom and doom” southern literary tradition established by Faulkner, Capote, and McCullers to illuminate the joyous quirkiness of human existence.
This reissue of the paperback assures yet another generation the delight of Eugene Walter’s award-winning romp through Mobile.
In the midst of societal optimism, how do young men cope with the loss of a vibrant future? Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia provides a vivid exploration of the tension between subjective and societal time and the ways these tensions create experiences of marginality among under- or unemployed young men in the Republic of Georgia.
Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, Martin Demant Frederiksen shows how the Georgian state has attempted to make the so-called post-Soviet transition a thing of the past as it creates new ideas about the future. Yet some young men in the regional capital of Batumi do not feel that they are part of the progression these changes create. Instead, they feel marginalized both by space and time—passed over and without prospects.
This distinctive case study provides empirical evidence for a deeper understanding of contemporary societal developments and their effects on individual experiences.
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