Foreword Reviews

Book of the Day Roundup November 11-15, 2019

3 covers for November 11-15, 2019 Book of the Day Roundup

Making a Difference

My Fight for Native Rights and Social Justice

Book Cover
Ada Deer
University of Oklahoma
Hardcover $26.95 (232pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

In 1954, the same year Menominee civil rights activist Ada Deer graduated from her masters program, the US government passed the Menominee Termination Act, erasing the Menominee nation’s recognition under federal law. Deer spent the rest of her life fighting to restore sovereignty and basic rights to Native American people across the US, working at both the grassroots level and as the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs. Making a Difference is her fact-dense memoir, filled with names, dates, and details regarding major legislative issues affecting Native Americans over the last century.

Deer was born to a white mother and a Menominee father on the successful, self-governing Menominee reservation. Tribe members used sustainable forestry practices to supply raw materials to their lumber mill, where the majority of the men worked. Government termination of the nation destroyed this way of life. Deer’s father, following indoctrination, was ashamed of his identity; Deer’s mother was incensed by the government’s treatment of Native Americans, and became politically active against it. With their examples, Deer grew into a powerful, dedicated activist.

Within the text, the Menominees’ story is also Ada Deer’s; as injustice befell the nation, so it befell her. Little is revealed about Deer’s personal life beyond her involvement with Native rights and social justice issues; instead, the text concentrates on topics that have hounded Native nations and the Bureau of Indian Affairs for decades. Deer and her co-author, Theda Perdue, forward clear explanations and capture the magnitude of working with dozens of sovereign nations representing a vast array of needs unique to themselves.

Making a Difference is an extensive, eye-opening primer on Native American history and US government intervention in the twentieth century.

CAMILLE-YVETTE WELSCH (October 27, 2019)

Vegan Everything

100 Easy Recipes for Any Craving—from Bagels to Burgers, Tacos to Ramen

Book Cover
Nadine Horn
Jörg Mayer
The Experiment
Softcover $19.95 (224pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Vegan Everything may be a lofty title, but Nadine Horn and Jörg Mayer’s compilation of plant-based recipes comes remarkably close. Going around the world in one hundred recipes, with neither an animal by-product nor ounce of pretension in sight, this cookbook is an exuberant answer to the question “but what do vegans eat?

Full of recipes that mostly max out at eight steps and don’t rely on lengthy lists of exotic ingredients, Vegan Everything takes the mystique out of plant-based cooking. Nothing about this cookbook is intimidating; it’s the perfect cookbook for anyone who’s trying to expand their repertoire, complete with non-condescending guidance on stocking the vegan pantry and a list of vital kitchen tools complete with doodled illustrations. Recipes are innovatively ordered by where they fit into the natural rhythms of life, with sections including 20-minute meals, date night dinners, and dishes for cooking for family and friends.

Beyond accessibility, this diverse collection makes vegan cooking exciting. Fiery Koshari, an Egyptian rice, noodle, and lentil dish, awaits not three pages away from a classic Winter Minestrone, each presented with equally recognizable ingredients and straightforward instructions. Breakfasts like Coconut Farro and Scallion Pancakes beg to become part of your Saturday brunch routine, while a page of four smoothie recipes provides a quick morning option without assuming you’ve ever touched a blender. These are recipes dressed to impress without breaking a sweat; serve up Hot ‘N’ Sour Soup in less time than it takes for delivery to arrive, or stun with classy Cauliflower Steaks in just seven steps.

Delectable and designed for daily life, Vegan Everything is a welcome addition to any plant-based (or plant-friendly) bookshelf. With recipes so easy you could learn to cook from them, this is the perfect compilation for busy cooks who want to start Meatless Mondays but don’t know where to start, or for vegans who’re in their own kitchens for the first time.

JESSIE HORNESS (October 27, 2019)

From Chernobyl with Love

Reporting from the Ruins of the Soviet Union

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Katya Cengel
Potomac Books
Hardcover $29.95 (304pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Journalist Katya Cengel’s adventurous memoir From Chernobyl with Love begins in the 1990s, when, fresh out of college, she was posted to an assignment abroad.

Cengel arrived in Latvia with the name of her new employer, school newspaper experience, and luggage full of brand new winter gear. She was assigned to report on post-Soviet news and culture. Her rich story of contrasts is set during a time of change and revolution, and features rollerblading through streets of identical tenements while personal stories fill in the gaps between news events.

Cengel’s time in the Baltics was her introduction to reporting abroad; that experience led her to Kyiv, where civil unrest and mistrust of a shady government led to the Orange Revolution. She shows that, after September 11, 2001, journalism underwent major changes as American news sources refocused their international coverage on terrorism.

Cengel’s love story with a photographer is included, too; it overlaps with accounts about friends and her boyfriend’s controlling family. These relationships help her through daily life and some hair-raising health crises.

Cengel recalls incidents like submitting to radiation screening after interviewing the residents of Chernobyl and finding out then that if she didn’t pass, she couldn’t leave. Reporting on the slow, boozy ceremonial burial of the head of an admired and long-dead Cossack hero adds another angle. Cengel ably captures a complicated region in which citizens make do with few resources, where phones are tapped and many workers aren’t paid, and where the people encountered sometimes seek bribes, are pessimistic, or are drunk.

Cengel’s language is precise, and her historical context invites readers in, regardless of their knowledge of former USSR countries. Big risks and moments of gravity make From Chernobyl with Love both human and heroic—a satisfying and gutsy memoir.

MEREDITH GRAHL COUNTS (October 27, 2019)


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Zeruya Shalev
Sondra Silverston, translator
Other Press
Softcover $17.99 (400pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

In Zeruya Shalev’s searing contemporary novel Pain, an Israeli woman who survived a terror attack is forced to address the wounds that will not heal.

Ten years ago, Iris survived a bus bombing. Scraped off of molten pavement, she endured months of surgeries to repair her shattered pelvis and other breaks and burns. But Iris proved resolute in pushing past the incident: a woman who’s survived heartbreak doesn’t let herself get moored by something as impersonal as a bomb.

But on its anniversary, Iris is reminded of the attack. Her pain comes flooding back, though it’s rooted in memories not outwardly central to the bombing itself. Instead, Eitan, the boy whose abandonment of Iris unfurled toward the moment of the explosion, is the phantom limb she can’t stop feeling. When Iris encounters Eitan now—the head doctor at a clinic that assists with pain—it seems to be an invitation to reconsider her life since him, family and all.

In this treatment of enduring wounds, the Bethlehem policeman who planted the bus bomb is a footnote; more looming are the horrors of lost love. Iris speaks of her early connection to Eitan in biblical terms: theirs is a story that rivals the patriarchs’, theirs a connection that keeps the fates moving. When Eitan leaves, it nearly kills her. When he returns, she is reborn.

The reunited lovers strike up an affair, blotting out concerns regarding Iris’s stalled marriage, troubled son, and distant daughter. When elements of their love come to seem a generational curse rather than a blessing, Iris is compelled to make a lasting choice. Strained sympathies give way to more salient truths about the commitments that we make and the peace that’s found within them.

With its heady musings on what makes love pure, Pain is a blistering novel that pits passion against ordinary commitments.


Alien Archives

Eighteen Stories of Extraterrestrial Encounters

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Robert Silverberg
Three Rooms Press
Softcover $16.00 (404pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Robert Silverberg is an enduring voice in science fiction, and eighteen of his extraterrestrial-themed short stories and novellas are included in Alien Archives, collected for a new generation looking for life beyond our stars.

Some of these stories may be familiar to genre enthusiasts––or may soon be, with film and television adaptations in the works. Each entry features an all new introduction from Silverberg himself, with new insights into his history and process; they also comment on trends and troubles in science fiction at large.

Silverberg’s wealth of material and endless imagination ensure that, even though it’s themed, the collection casts a wide net. Each entry involves a new angle or twist on the extraterrestrial encounter. In “Sundance,” humans are the invaders; it’s a familiar trope that takes a hard left into poignant cultural commentary. Parallels are drawn to the tragic history and enduring trauma of Indigenous peoples. “Gorgon Planet” is a whimsical blend of futuristic fantastical with ancient mythology; in it, a band of scientists transforms into radar-wielding Perseuses to defeat a not entirely alien foe.

Though the collection’s focus is out of this world, its most compelling moments come in the hearts of its characters, as they wrestle with the inescapable influences of love, anger, and grief that plague all sentient beings. “One-Way Journey” tackles a legacy of loss, while “Bride 91” explores finding love in unexpected places and against all obstacles: a man enters into his ninety-first temporary marriage contract. Taking place on good old terra firma, “Amanda and the Alien” is a collection standout, following a young woman who takes in an escaped alien for her own, vengeful purposes; it challenges the genre’s heroic resistance narrative.

Proving that human beings are sometimes the most alien creatures of all, Alien Archives is a delight for anyone who still wants to believe.

DANIELLE BALLANTYNE (October 27, 2019)

Barbara Hodge

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