Tag: controversy

Broaden Your Mind With This Week’s Non-Fiction Picks

Each week, Bookstr scans bestseller lists across the Internet to learn what people are reading, buying, gifting, and talking about most — just so we can ensure consistent, high-quality recommendations. This week’s nonfiction picks center around the theme of current best-sellers, showcasing what nonfiction books are the biggest hits with audiences! Pick these up to see what everyone is talking about!

 

5. The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang

 

A swirling collection of color coming together

Image via Amazon

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang is a collection of thirteen essays that offer a new vocabulary and discussion topics regarding the perils of mental illness. The author, Wang, struggles with schizophrenia herself and offers light of what it’s like to grapple with one’s own mental sickness. In the book, Wang balances her own personal struggles with carefully crafted research, creating a unique experiences that will speak to anyone fascinated by the topic or fighting their own battles mentally.

 

4. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer 

 

An American flag on the backdrop of a black background

Image via Amazon

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer examines America’s complicated and often disgraceful history with the Battle of Wounded Knee, the massacre of Native Americans by American troops in 1890. The author, a Native American who grew up on a reservation, examines Native American’s history with Wounded Knee and all the attempts to destroy their culture throughout the years. In doing so, David Treur finds that their culture has, while no thrived, transformed and created a unifying sense of identity culture that has resisted being wiped and in some ways, grown stronger. This is a profound read that showcases a people’s resistance and holding onto their culture through the turbulent years.

 

3. Maid by Stephanie Land

 

A pair of maid gloves on the white background

Image via Amazon

Maid by Stephanie Land turned to housekeeping to meet ends meet after  an unplanned pregnancy. There, she saw how mistreated the housework community was and began to write stories online sharing her experiences. Stories of living on foot stamps, uncaring government employees who refused maids assistance, and overworked, underpaid Americans who were struggling to meet ends meet. This book now explores that lifestyle, the lifestyle of what it’s really like to be a maid and shares their stories with the world. This book gives a voice to those who have none as it follows Stephanie’s journey and many others like her.

 

2. Make Scream, Make it burn by Leslie Jamison

 

A bunch of neon letters saying 'Make It Scream Make it burn'

Image Via Amazon

Make It Scream, Make It Burn by Leslie Jamison is another collection of essays, each offering varied, different, and thought provoking content. Among the essays featured is one about the loneliest whale in the world, the landscape of the Sri Lanken War, becoming a stepmother, and journey through Las Vegas in a. desperate search for the American Dream. Each essay is full of nuance and passion, each different yet related under a constant banner beautiful writing and connecting thematically. Jamison’s voice is impossible to resist and with emotional, intellectual power this is a must read.

 

1. Charged by Emily Bazelon

 

An African-American man stands at a prison fence
Image via Amazon

Charged by Emily Bazelon is an examination of the broken American prison system. It examines the power prosecutors truly have, who control a case and are more liable to swing the jury over to their side in order to ‘win’ rather than balancing a fair system. They decide who lives and goes free, who lives and who dies, with all the biases that come with their decisions. This book follows two young people caught in the unfair justice system: Kevin, a twenty year old charged with a serious violent felony and Noura, a teenage girl indicted for murdering her own mother. The author follows their cases in detail, showing why criminal cases go wrong and showcaseing how the system can be reformed.

 

 

Featured Image Via Amazon

Elif Shafak

Turkey Puts Novelists, Including Elif Shafak, Under Investigation

According to The Guardian Turkish prosecutors have begun investigations into numerous writers of fiction, including famed author Elif Shafak. The campaign has been described as a serious violation of free speech rights, all breaking off from recent, rather vicious debates on social media about authors who write about difficult topics, such as child abuse and sexual violence. After a page from a new novel Abdullah Sevki was shared on Twitter, the novel quickly generated deep controversy when the chapter showcased featured a first person account of a child being sexual assaulted from a sexual predator’s POV. The government of Turkey has issued a formal complaint to ban the book and has charged Abdullah Sevki with criminal acts such as potential child abuse.

 

Turkey novelist with a close up of her face
IMAGE VIA THE GUARDIAN

Elif Shafak has described the campaign as a serious attack on free speech, having received thousands of abusive messages about her work published in the last few years, which deals with similar themes. She said her work is intended to put a spotlight on sexual violence in Turkey, especially against children, as Turkish courts have dragged their feet actually investigating reported incidents. She notes that instead of going after real life rapists, the Turkish courts are attacking writers instead, using them as a scapegoat without having to actually investigate the true problem.

Numerous speech organizations are deeply concerned about this campaign against Turkish novelists and have been quoted as saying:

“Freedom of expression in Turkey is increasingly under serious threat. Too many writers are in prison whilst others have been forced into exile.”

 

Shafak was previously tried for her novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, where she referred to the massacre of Armenians in World War I as a war crime and genocide. Shafak acknowledged that she deals with difficult subjects, such as sexual violence, but does not condone it and does the exact opposite with her work. She further notes she has always been a campaigner for women, children, and minority rights.

The campaign into investigating Shafak and other authors like her is sparking an international debate, both over free speech rights and content allowed in novels. What are your thoughts on this complicated issue? This could be easily be a slippery slope to go down for Turkey as a whole.

 

 

Featured Image by Random House Books 

James Ellroy, Author of ‘L.A Confidential’ Had Some Harsh Words About the Film

James Ellroy, author of the bestselling 1990 noir novel L.A. Confidentialhas a few harsh words to say about the novel’s 1997 film adaptation, which starred Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, and Kevin Spacey. This was surprising, considering the film won numerous Oscars, including Best Picture and currently has a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But James Ellroy made it clear in his panel during the weekend of the Hay Festival, according to The Guardianthat he did not care for it.

He said the novel was as ‘deep as tortilla’, while also noting he did not care for the the majority of the performances and even considered that the plot itself made no sense. He thought the action lacked a soul, focused on action and spectacle as opposed to the deeper significance he gave the book. He did, however, like the money he was given to the rights to the book, noting it was a gift he never had to give back.

 

A close up portrait of writer James Ellroy, framed against a white backdrop

Image via Random House books

James Ellroy hasn’t shied from controversy before, expressing the belief that Citizen Kane is a sh*tty film and expressing disinterest in any events after 1972, preferring immensely to write about the period before that. He refused to answer questions at the end of the panel about ‘contemporary issues’. Either way, this showcases that no matter how good or popular your movie is, the author may not like it.

What are your thoughts on this? Tell us in the comments!

 

Featured Image Via Deadline 

Oxford Poetry Professor Candidate Under Fire for Misconduct

Getting a prestigious teaching position at Oxford University is a serious accomplishment, but the selection process for the new professor of poetry has generated some serious controversy.

According to The Guardian, three candidates have been selected for the role of professor of poetry at the internationally-renowned university: Alice Oswald, Andrew McMillan and Todd Swift. While Oswald and McMillan have seen relative success within their campaigns for the position, Swift has come under fire for conduct concerns… and the conduct is concerning.

 

Todd Swift. Image Via Poetry Foundation

 

Specifically, critics have referenced Swift’s behavior while running the independent publishing company Eyewear Publishing. A report from The Bookseller said that Eyewear mistreated its poets by locking them in contracts that didn’t allow them to communicate with trade unions, specifically the Society of Authors. Bookseller journalist Heloise Wood elaborated on the nature of these troubling allegations:

To prohibit authors from contacting the SoA is to prevent them from taking independent advice from their trade union. Not only is this unenforceable, it constitutes an unwarranted interference with their civil rights. The termination clause is also extraordinary – the fact that it explicitly mentions the possibility of the publisher sending ‘rude emails’ that cause ‘hurt feelings’ speaks for itself.

 

Swift, and other poets who chose to remain nameless, defended the contracts:

Each contract we have signed since 2012 is bespoke, we try and base on industry standard templates,” he said. “They are all discussed with the authors. We are very short on resources and usually if authors object to a clause we delete.

 

Another complaint surfaced from Vida about Swift’s old tweets where he allegedly attacked emerging poets. Both the tweets and Swift’s entire Twitter page were deleted, and soon after, Eyewear released a tweet condemning Swift:

 

Image Via Vida

 

Swift did not respond to these complaints directly.

As of right now, Oxford does not have any plans to remove Swift from consideration for the position. The incoming professor will be decided on June 21, and we’ll have to wait and see whether or not Oxford University offers him the role. 

 

Do you believe Swift should be out of consideration for the position?

 

 

 

 

Featured Image Via British GQ.

Natasha Tynes with the controversial Tweet

Author Loses Book Deal After Tweeting Complaint About Public Transit Worker

What’s the worst thing that a potential beau could do on a first date? Well, provided your date doesn’t snatch your wallet or set fire to the restaurant, the answer is nearly unanimous: treat the waitstaff poorly. Everyone knows the most fundamental tenet of common decency that of treating others with respect. No one is entitled to unkindness; certainly, no one has the right to mistreat someone whose job requires them to serve or assist you—that means no shouting at customer service reps, no predatory flirting with disinterested bartenders, no taking it out on a retail employee when you didn’t bring your receipt. Except, of course, for the people who don’t.

Meet Natasha Tynes, social media strategist and snitch.

Picture this: Natasha was riding the red line of the Washington, D.C. Metro when something unthinkable happened. No, nobody was injured. No, nobody was robbed. It was an unthinkable act because most of us never would have considered it out of the ordinary—an MTA employee eating her lunch on the train.

Scandalous? Probably not, even if the posted rules on the train express that eating and drinking are forbidden. But Tynes did seem to feel that it was far less scandalous to snap a picture of the woman’s face and rat her out on Twitter.

 

Natasha Tynes

Image Via The Daily Beast

 

(The original photo DID show the woman’s face, but Tynes has deleted her complaint.)

This self-proclaimed “social media expert” apparently wasn’t knowledgeable enough to predict the ensuing social media wrath. Twitter was quick to point out that Tynes was poised to launch her career by writing novels about her experience as a woman of color… experiences which can, apparently, include being ratted out for scarfing down breakfast between assignments. The hypocrisy was unsettling to many, who took the opportunity to articulate that someone’s racial or ethnic minority status cannot except them from anti-blackness.

 

Twitter found it particularly upsetting that Tynes marketed herself as a minority writer and yet would threaten the livelihood of another woman of color.

 

Racism and the Metro have a long history. In 2000, Ansche Hedgepth was arrested on the D.C. Metro for eating a potato chip despite her spotless record—handcuffed and held in a windowless cell. She was twelve years old.

Some rushed to Tynes’ defense. Many of them then rushed just as quickly to delete their Tweets.

 

Deleted Tweet defending Tynes

 

It’s only reasonable that passengers don’t know as much about the rules & regulations regarding D.C.’s transit as its employees. In fact, the employee in question had received an email days before stating that all employees must “cease and desist from issuing criminal citations” for eating and drinking on the trains—”effective immediately.” The Metro Workers’ Union also elaborated on the poor conditions employees face when trying to eat lunch: not all stations have break rooms. Anyone who’s absently watched a rat skitter away as a train barrels down the track knows that, without break rooms, the workers have no guarantee of sanitary conditions in which to eat.

We don’t have to guess at the employee’s circumstances; though she is not allowed to comment herself, the union has publicized the fact that the bus operator ate on the train because of train delays that were preventing her from getting to her next assignment on time. Rather than keep her passengers waiting, which would have caused further delays, she chose to eat on the train. Given the aforementioned official email, the employee will not face repercussions of any sort—but Tynes will.

Rare Bird, Tynes’ publishing house, publicly condemned Tynes’ actions and cancelled the publication of her upcoming novel.

 

They Called Me Wyatt, Tynes’ novel, may no longer be published—but on Goodreads, its 1.42 star legacy lingers.

“You apologized for the tweet,” wrote one reviewer, “but do you understand that you wanted her disciplined for not catering to your demands? A stranger. You tried to shame her for refusing your entitlement. Some WOC solidarity you got there.”

 

Featured Image Via Daily Mail.