22 December 2006

Global Culture Books

Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial ExperienceMixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience
edited by Chandra Prasad

What constitutes a multiracial experience? This volume of stories begs this question of the reader, but doesn't attempt to answer it with dry academics or statistics. Instead one is treated to an array of delightful, engaging, and challenging stories by the likes of Ruth "My Year of Meats" Ozeki and Chandra "Death of a Circus" Prasad. Prasad also wrote the book's forward, in which she opines: "[T]here is some commonality among multiracial people" being the physical proof of an increasingly global society, acting as the solder between various communities, straddling cultural expectations." And the book is full of human stories, angst and love and puzzles that appeal not just to multiracial people, but to the human condition of us all. An essential read in a globalizing world.


Klezmer - Book One: Tales of the Wild EastKlezmer - Book One: Tales of the Wild East
by Joann Sfar

With a few pen strokes and a few lines of dialogue, Joann Sfar has the ability to convey personality, story, even historical context. Riding the success of his brilliantly subversive book The Rabbi's Cat (discussed last year on SoundRoots), acclaimed French graphic novelist Sfar takes on the musical history of Jews in Eastern Europe in this first book of a planned series. The link between Jews and Roma is personified in protagonist Yaacov's teaming up with Gypsy musician Tshokola. Living on the edge of society, their encounters illustrate various joys, hardships, and racism in the region, all as a delicious background to the klezmer music we know and love today. Essential reading, unless you're allergic to watercolors or meaty tales.

I've also been digging into a book you won't find at Powell's (or Amazon). It's a 1944 tome called Peoples of the World, an illustrated journey around the world that shows how we've changed in the last six decades (as with the racist photo caption below) and how it hasn't (it describes a group of Muslim women in Russia gathered to listen to a speaker tell them why they should spurn the hijab).

This photo is found on page 384, with the caption: "Nearly thirty million bunches of bananas are cut every year in Honduras. The Indian laborers are said to be somewhat lazy, but few people would be industrious in the hot, most climate of the coast. Men are as a rule finer-looking than women, who are considered fit only for drudgery, and have to toil incessantly." Watch for more from this cultural time capsule here on SoundRoots.

As for listening today... Brazilian-Jewish singer Elisete has recently released a remix album, so a listen may be in order. Here she is with a remix of the song "Gaagua (Longing)."

[mp3] Elisete: "Saudade"
from Remixes: World Electro
Bonus: "The Echo Song"


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