What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

September 3, 2009

Jane Koustas, associate professor in the department of modern languages, literatures and cultures, Brock University, Canada, is reading Rawi Hage's Cockroach (House of Anansi, 2008). "Unsettling and disturbing, this compelling novel takes the reader far from the Montreal winter wonderland of the travel brochures into the tortured life of a profoundly damaged, amazingly functional refugee and (almost) survivor of the Lebanese conflict who struggles on the edge of sanity and survival."

Omar Malik, associate fellow, Nottingham University Business School, is reading Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan's The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain (Carswell & Hannan, 2008). "There is more value in these pages than in all the rainforests of duplicity, aka government statements 1997-2009. The authors' thesis is that our elected Parliament has lost all its powers to the unelected, to subordinate agencies and quangos, and to a master, the European Commission. The authors' 12-point fix is designed to restore the powers and the reputation of Parliament. Great book."

Sue McHale is senior lecturer in psychology, Sheffield Hallam University. She is reading Lizzie Collingham's Curry: A Biography of a Dish (Chatto & Windus, 2005). "A scholarly work that explores the English people's love of curry, it takes a historical, anthropological and psychological perspective to explore Anglo-Indian relationships from the East India Company to present-day migrants to the UK."

June Purvis, professor of women's and gender history, University of Portsmouth, is reading The English Rebel: One Thousand Years of Troublemaking, from the Normans to the Nineties, by David Horspool (Viking, 2009). "This broad-sweep, enjoyable book explores a long tradition of rebelliousness in England. However, the section on the suffragette movement is disappointing. The author appears to assume that the suffragette campaign was a single-issue campaign. And it was Emmeline, not Christabel, Pankhurst who said: 'We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.'"

Arran Stibbe is senior lecturer in the department of humanities, University of Gloucestershire. "I am re-reading William Morris' 1890 book News from Nowhere (Oxford University Press) and finding the Utopian vision of the future that it presents amazingly appropriate for a world trying to wean itself from fossil fuels."

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