Of Africa - Wole Soyinka

It’s hard to think of anyone better qualified to talk about Africa than the playwright, poet, political prisoner, fearless critic of oppression, and the first African winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Wole Soyinka. In his optimistic new book, Of Africa (Yale Univ., $24), Soyinka brings his encyclopedic knowledge, wide-ranging interests, and insight into the history and cultures of the continent to bear on the question of what Africa has to offer the world today, and how best to respond to the traumas of the past. Soyinka believes in Africa as a resource of “hidden” values—especially spiritual values—an alternative to the “alien binaries” and hegemonic bipolar dichotomies of the past, be they in the political sphere (Communism versus Capitalism), or in the religious fissure between Christianity and Islam. He presents the Yoruba religion, for example, as a “hidden” tradition that “could never have produced… the Inquisition.”

Of Africa Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300198331
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Yale University Press - November 12th, 2013

The Great Big Book of Horrible Things - Matthew White

This is exactly what it claims to be – a great big book of massacres, genocides, famines and every other man-made calamity to befall civilization since 480 BCE. No event makes the cut if the death toll isn’t reliably estimated at 300 000 or more. White doesn’t take sides, doesn’t differentiate between types of death, and his numbers are middle of the road. One of the categories in the summary chapter headings is “another damn”, as in “another damn Mongol invasion”, for example. Refreshingly, the book is global in scope, and the author’s breadth of knowledge and storytelling skills make it an entertaining, at times even funny, read. Any attempt to face our violent past must begin with the truth and this is what White has made a valiant attempt to give us, although I guarantee you’ll want to quibble.
The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History's 100 Worst Atrocities Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393081923
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 7th, 2011

Snuff - Terry Pratchett

The latest installment in the career of His Grace, the Duke of Ankh, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes, Blackboard Monitor etc., Snuff, has the old copper ordered off to a vacation in the countryside, ostensibly for some rest and relaxation. Of course, he ends up up to his neck in the action—this time, there’s a little fuss involving goblins. Sir Terry Pratchett, no doubt Blackboard Monitor etc., has been doing this for so long that you’d think it would pall, but the Discworld series is as fresh and funny as ever, despite its creator’s 2007 Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Long may it continue.

Snuff: A Novel of Discworld Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062218865
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - December 26th, 2012