Tuesday, 25 March 2014 00:00

Good Reads 25/03/2014

Written by Lucy Duggan and Velislav Ivanov

9962afd4d7801adbe96e49a2f2eab69f LGood Reads is returning on 6th sense! This week Lucy Duggan and Velislav Ivanov tell you about their most favorite articles. Read about a "stateless Palestinian with a Danish Passport", think differently about Britain, women and the catholic church!

Lucy Duggan:


The angry words of a "stateless Palestinian with a Danish passport"

Yahya Hassan is a guy with a lot to say. His furious poetry has spread across Denmark at an amazing speed: in three months, his first collection of poems has sold 100 000 copies and stirred up new debate about the experiences of immigrants in Danish society. This in-depth review provides a sample of his writing, demonstrating the brutal energy which fills his best poems, whilst also offering some criticism of his hip-hop arrogance. Most importantly, though, this article also gives plenty of context, discussing Hassan's background and the ways in which his poems reflect the problems faced by immigrants even in a country with a generous welfare system.

Severed heads and the yapping of dogs: women's voices have met with violence and ridicule since European culture began

At times, Mary Beard's lecture on the public voice of women makes for grim listening: as a public intellectual, she herself has experienced some very unsettling abuse online and in the media. What sets her apart from other commentators on everyday misogyny is her expert use of her background as a classicist: she begins her analysis by going right back to Homer and discussing "the first recorded example of a man telling a woman to 'shut up', and winds her way forward from the classics of Greek and Roman literature to the present day. It's frustrating to hear just how much of European culture is founded on the exclusion of women's voices from public spaces, but as I listened to her lecture, I also felt hopeful. She's not afraid to use her voice and her intellect to compel her listeners to change their assumptions - and if my parents' generation could produce such a brave, eloquent woman, maybe my generation will finally make sure "Miss Triggs" can speak for herself.

Britain's retirement from the EU political theatre: "Brexit" stage right

Finally, as a "British European", I felt somewhat less lonely after reading this article by E&M's own Matt Shearman. He discusses the increasing support for the UK Independence Party, in an analysis which gives an excellent sense of the current political atmosphere in the UK. Matt is right to emphasise that those who want the UK to remain in the EU will need to think more deeply about the reasons for UKIP's success - otherwise our country might end up retreating further and further from European cooperation. When I think of the European governments-in-exile which operated from London during the Second World War, or the Poles and Czechs who fought in the RAF, not to mention the intensely close connections between British art and literature and that of other European countries, I can't help thinking that the UK's European identity might be something worth fighting for.

Velislav Ivanov:

Vel 150-169

Remember a guy called Julian Assange?

Remember when WikiLeaks was new, scandalously lifting the veil from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then publishing millions of leaked diplomatic cables from US embassies all over the world, revealing the carnivorous nature of international realpolitik for anyone with an Internet connection to read for themselves? For a while, it seemed like anti-establishment activism was gaining massive support, and resentment was evolving into a movement with Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, as one of its unquestioned leaders. And just then, scandal boomeranged the Australian activist, climaxing in a sui generis diplomatic predicament that has left him in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, trying to evade extradition to Sweden for a rape charge. Andrew O'Hagan, who ghost-wrote Assange's autobiography, has recently brought his impressions of the experience to light. Worth reading - and listening to - for the succulent Scottish speech alone, we slowly see how the man who seemed to shake the bases of international order a few years back, gave way to paranoia and inertia.

Sin and indulgence - in Rome, Côte d'Ivoire

If your name is, say, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, you have a lot on your conscience for acceding to power in a country like, say, Côte d'Ivoire, and you are a fervent follower of, say, Catholicism; once in power, what would you do to alleviate your troubles and be granted divine forgiveness? Why, naturally, build an exact replica of the grandest Catholic cathedral there is, the Basilica di San Pietro in Rome, that costs several percent of the GDP of your country. Messy Nessy Chic tells this beautifully absurd story of sin and indulgence and supplies equally beautiful and absurd images of the deed. If you were looking for an alternative destination to Rome for next summer, this is obviously the next best choice.

Front picture by: Paola Frogheri (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Last modified on Sunday, 13 April 2014 10:16

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