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A Shocking Memoir From a Stolen Generation

I learnt about Of Ashes and Rivers That Run to the Sea from Emma’s excellent review on Book Around the Corner. It’s a very moving memoir by a woman, Marie Munkara, who was taken from her Aboriginal family in northern Australia at the age of 3 and placed with a white foster family in Melbourne. The Stolen Generations Munkara was one of thousands of members of the “Stolen Generations” of Aboriginal children taken from their homes by the Australian government or church missions. According to Wikipedia: “Official government estimates are that in… Read More

Review of All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

The first thing to say about this book is that the prose is just stunning. It had me hooked from the first lines: Another sheep, mangled and bled out, her innards not yet crusting and the vapours rising from her like a steamed pudding. Crows, their beaks shining, strutting and rasping, and when I waved my stick they flew to the trees and watched, flaring out their wings, singing, if you could call it that. I shoved my boot in Dog’s face to stop him from taking a string of… Read More

What Sport Tells Us About Life by Ed Smith

As well as The Chinese Garden of Serenity, Vishy also sent me What Sport Tells Us About Life. Again, it was a thoughtful gift. Although I don’t tend to write about sport on here, I’ve always enjoyed watching cricket, and Vishy and I have talked about it quite a bit by email. The author of this book, Ed Smith, even batted for my county, Kent, so it was bound to go down well. First of all, I should say that I think the cover does the book a disservice. With its… Read More

A Very British Blog Tour 2013

I was tagged recently by Maria Savva as part of ‘A Very British Blog Tour’. The idea is to introduce readers to more British writers. I don’t really define myself by nationality that much, but I like Maria and some of the questions are interesting, so I thought I’d take part. Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment? A. I was born in London and I’m back in London again now, although I’ve been away for a while in-between. Q. Have you always lived… Read More

Sophie Blackall at the Brooklyn Public Library

Like any nosy New Yorker, I first encountered Sophie Blackall on the subway. I most often ride the F line, and found myself pleasantly surprised one day by the depth of feeling in the illustrations above me. Blackall is a children’s book author, born in Australia but currently based in Brooklyn, and would likely not mind the neat line one might draw between her and Maurice Sendak.

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Population growth and CO2

Just read the January/February issue of the New Internationalist, and was depressed at first to see the title “The population panic” on the cover. But it turned out to be a very well-researched series of articles, showing that a lot of the popular assumptions about population growth are false. For example,the following graph shows that the link between population growth and global warming is weak: the majority of the population growth is in poor countries that do not contribute greatly to global warming, while the countries with low population growth… Read More

“Commonwealth Short Stories”, part 4

In the final part of this series of posts, I’m reviewing stories by Mavis Gallant, V.S. Naipaul, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Hal Porter and Chinua Achebe. Mavis Gallant (Canada) – Orphans’ Progress According to the introduction, Gallant’s work mostly deals with broken families, and this is no exception: two girls are taken into care because their mother is irresponsible. They go to live with relatives, and then at a school run by nuns, until finally they have forgotten where they came from. At the time it seemed normal – it was… Read More