Just Breathe Normally

41rp-x8cnyl-_sx321_bo1204203200_By Peggy Shumaker

University of Nebraska Press, 2007.

In the wake of her near-fatal cycling collision, Peggy Shumaker searches for meaning within extremity. Through a long convalescence, she meditates on the meaning of justice and the role of love in the grueling process of healing.Shumaker’s memoir explores our desire to understand the fragmented self, using the power of words to restore what medical science cannot: the fragile human psyche and its immense capacity for forgiveness. (Publisher’s description)

Peggy Shumaker is professor emerita of English at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the author of several books of poetry, including Blaze and Underground Rivers. She teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.
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Fearful Symmetry: India-Pakistan Crises in the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons

510r7nm2cxl-_sx323_bo1204203200_By Sumit Ganguly & Devin T. Hagerty.

Oxford University Press, 2006.

With the nuclearization of the Indian subcontinent, Indo-Pakistani crisis behavior has acquired a deadly significance. The past two decades have witnessed no fewer than six crises against the backdrop of a vigorous nuclear arms race. Except for the Kargil war of 1998-9, all these events were resolved peacefully.

Nuclear war was avoided despite bitter mistrust, everyday tensions, an intractable political conflict over Kashmir, three wars, and the steady refinement of each side’s nuclear capabilities. Sumit Ganguly and Devin T. Hagerty carefully analyze each crisis, reviewing the Indian and Pakistani domestic political systems and key decisions during the relevant period. (Publisher’s Descrption)

Sumit Ganguly is professor of political science and Rabindranath Tagore Chair of Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, Bloomington. Devin T. Hagerty is associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Speaking Havoc: Social Suffering & South Asian Narratives

51lmorbwcxlBy Ramu Nagappan

University of Washington Press, 2005

Who has the right to speak about trauma? As cultural products, narratives of social suffering paradoxically release us from responsibility while demanding that we examine our own connectedness to the circumstances that produce suffering. As a result, the text’s act of “speaking havoc” rebounds in unsettling ways.Speaking Havoc investigates how literary and cinematic fictions intervene in the politics and reception of social suffering. Amitav Ghosh’s modernist novel The Shadow Lines (1988), A Fine Balance (1995) by Rohinton Mistry, the short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, Salman Rushdie’s postmodernist novel Shame (1983), and the “spectacular” films of Maniratnam: each bears witness to social violence in South Asia. These works confront squarely a number of ethical dilemmas in representations of social suffering – the catastrophes and innumerable minor tragedies that arise from clashes among religious and ethnic communities.

Focusing on central events such as the Partition of 1947, the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, and more recent religious conflicts between India and Pakistan, Nagappan demonstrates the differing ways that narratives engage – often in ambiguous and problematic ways – the political violence that has marked the last fifty years of South Asian history. Is it possible to tell fully the stories of those who have died and those who have survived? Can writing really act as a counter to silence? In his compassionate engagement with these concerns, Nagappan demonstrates the relevance of literature and literary studies to fundamental sociological, anthropological, and political issues. (Publisher’s description)

Ramu Nagappan is an instructor and coordinator of Interdisciplinary Studies in Medicine and the Humanities in the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.

Reflections of a Khmer Soul

51ngadu0val-_sx322_bo1204203200_By Navy Phim
Wheatmark, 2007

Navy Phim explores what it means to be a child of the “Killing Fields.” Hers is the story of the middle generation growing up with, and trying to make sense of, two cultures and two worlds–the beauty and tragedy of her Cambodian past (her Khmer soul) and the comfortable restlessness of her American present. Through stories, memories, and “snippets,” Navy shares her life journey from her birthplace in Battambang, Cambodia, to Kao-I-Dang refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border, to a refugee processing center in the Philippines, to Long Beach, California, home to the largest population of Cambodians outside Southeast Asia. (Review by Dr. Susan Needham, associate professor, anthropology, California State University, Dominguez Hills)

Unlearning to Fly


By Jennifer Brice. 

University of Nebraska Press, 2007.

Unlearning to Fly is the memoir of a bookworm growing up in Alaska—among people whose resilience, restlessness, and energy find their highest expression in winter ascents of Mount McKinley or first descents of wild rivers. These are the flying stories of a fearful pilot, one who admires but does not emulate the more daring exploits of her father and her friends.

The accounts of Jennifer Brice—at times poignant, funny, and downright nerve-racking—are engaging recollections of deadly, near-deadly, and occasionally comic encounters between human nature and Nature writ large. The unlikely romance between her parents, the Good Friday earthquake, the Alaska oil boom, a stint as a newspaper reporter, and the trials of a student pilot form a few chapters in Brice’s remarkable life. These are the stories in which the physics and metaphors of flight—center of gravity, angle of attack, wake turbulence—illuminate Brice’s remarkable life story, recounted in prose that takes wing. (Publisher’s description)

Jennifer Brice is an associate professor of English at Colgate University and the author of The Last Settlers. Her work has appeared in such journals as the Gettysburg Review, Manoa, and River Teeth.