Multicultural Superheroes are Women

•1,May 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Kickass, Multicultural Superheroes Made By Women, For Women

Jazmin Truesdale’s Aza Comics aims to show women working together, instead of against each other.

Jazmin Truesdale grew up reading comics. But, as she got older, she lost interest in the catchy crime-fighting plots and the mostly male casts of characters.

“When you get older you start to notice more things like sexism and racism in the entertainment you consume, and I was becoming more put off by comics,” Truesdale told The Huffington Post. Rather than turning away from her interest, however, she dove into it head-on, dreaming up a squad of heroines that better reflects the lives of real women reading comics today.

“In the superhero industry, there are many physically powerful women and people of color but none of them are truly empowered,” Truesdale said. “They’ll show up for a comic issue or two and then disappear into the superhero void.”

She’s referring specifically to Nubia — a black woman who features in the “Wonder Woman” series as a powerful equal to Wonder Women, yet is scarcely seen after a three-issue stint in the late 1970s. Her fate is common among superwomen, who tend to crop up as strong-willed love interests — ahem, Catwoman — more than stars in their own right.

“Female superheroes were never meant for women,” Truesdale said. “They were created by men, for men. The characters are either created based on female stereotypes or they are literally regurgitated female versions of popular male characters.”

Read further @ Huffington Post

The New Book by Don DeLillo

•1,May 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Don DeLillo’s Total Art of Memory

When Don DeLillo took the stage at the 2015 National Book Awards, where he accepted the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, he opened with a humorous confession. “Yes,” he said, “I’m here to talk about myself.” Next he did what he always does, what he can’t help but doing: he told a story. “Books,” he began, “This is why we’re here this evening”:

Lately, I’ve been looking at books that stand on two long shelves in a room just down the hall from room where I work. Early books, paperbacks, every one. The first books I ever owned. And they resemble some kind of medieval plunder: old and scarred, weathered covers and sepia pages that might crumble at the touch of a human finger. I’m the human in the story, and when I lift the book from the shelf gently, I understand again the power of memory that a book carries with it. What is there to remember? Who I was, where I was, what these books meant to me when I read them for the first time.

“I’m the human in the story.” Precise, austere, it was, like all of his stories in the wake of the exhausting Underworld. But the story is ascetic because it’s trained on the inexhaustible: the vastness of memory. “I’m here to talk about myself.” Who is Don DeLillo, writer of fictions, among these two long shelves of books? Whatself is viable, maintained against such inexhaustibility?

Zero K is one of the strongest counterstatements that recent American fiction has to offer about the self composed by fictions, and the self that contrives them. And it runs counter not to the whims of technology or the entropic fate of human beings, but the claims on their behalf to ecstatic knowledge. An act of restrained wisdom literature, it puts forward an argument — or an idea — that fiction is one form of storytelling that values human memory, and one that accordingly makes room for selves to thrive. It’s an act of vision against the visionaries, a story of memory aimed at the religious presentists of apocalyptic thinking.

The story Zero K tells is straightforward, facetious, and disconcerting. It opens in Chelyabinsk, the site of a famous meteor crash, where Jeffrey Lockhart has arrived to meet his father, Ross, a calculating, self-made billionaire with familiar eccentricities who has assembled a “network of companies, agencies, funds, trusts, foundations, syndicates, communes and clans” in support of a cultic project called the Convergence. The nature of this project unfolds slowly over the course of the novel, but we soon learn that Ross plans to supply his wife, Artis, Jeffrey’s stepmother, with everlasting life. An archaeologist by training, Artis is dying of complications from multiple sclerosis. Jeffrey, who is not her son, attends her deathbed while Ross makes preparations for her reconstitution as perhaps another being, another self, by way of a curious nanotechnology. Referring perhaps to the molding of humans from clay put forth by various creation myths, Artis thinks of her eventual reconstitution in the “second life” as a form of earth art.

Read further @ Flavorwire

The Handmaiden: acclaimed Korean film

•1,May 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment


The Handmaiden review – Park Chan-wook’s lurid lesbian potboiler simmers with sexual tension

The acclaimed Korean film-maker’s latest is an erotic thriller that prioritises female sexuality, and exquisite set design, to intoxicating effect

It was inaccurately thought by some, who had clearly never read a single sentence of the source novel, that Sam Taylor Johnson’s glossy adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey would be a seminal Hollywood moment for female sexuality. Hopes that it would be “bravely” thrusted to the forefront were quickly dashed, whipped and spanked once it was predictably revealed to be a film about, duh, male control.

Park Chan-wook’s last film Stoker, his first foray into Hollywood, had Mia Wasikowska’s burgeoning killer masturbate after helping to murder her attempted rapist, a fascinatingly perverse scene that acts as something of a precursor to his latest. The rare focus on a woman’s experience of sex without a man involved is key in his adaptation of Sarah Waters’ award-winning novel Fingersmith, which relocates the story from Victorian Britain to 1930s Korea.

A con artist, calling himself Count Fujiwara, hatches a devious plan that sees him working alongside pickpocket Sook-hee to steal the many riches of beautiful heiress Lady Hideko. Isolated and bullied into an impending marriage with her uncle, Hideko takes on Sook-hee as her handmaiden. But while Sook-hee’s task is getting her new mistress to fall for the “Count”, she finds herself sexually drawn instead.

Read further @ The Guardian

Review of Jung Yun’s “Shelter”

•1,May 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Jung Yun’s family drama ‘Shelter’ reads like a suspenseful thriller

I read the greater part of Jung Yun’s “Shelter” in a 14-hour sitting, interrupted by only five hours of sleep. I was on a trip, with other people, but I couldn’t do anything until I was finished; Yun’s debut may be a family drama, but it has all the tension of a thriller. It’s a sharp knife of a novel — powerful and damaging, and so structurally elegant that it slides right in.

Kyung Cho is a decidedly unheroic protagonist, a 36-year-old man saddled with debt and bitterness, uneasy in his roles as husband, father and son. Though he lives minutes away from his parents outside Boston — where father and son teach at the same college, he in his father’s shadow — theirs is a strained relationship.

“He’s not a good son; he knows this already. But he’s the best possible version of the son they raised him to be. Present, but not adoring. Helpful, but not generous. Obligated and nothing more.” He was raised in a wealthy Korean Christian household, but his childhood was marred by domestic violence.

Read further @ Los Angeles Times

On the Core Idea of Afrofuturism

•1,May 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Your Brief And Far-Out Guide To Afrofuturism

“Time is this really fluid thing. Now is now, but the past is now and the future too.” 

This is how curator and anthropologist Niama Safia Sandy describes the core idea of Afrofuturism, a cultural aesthetic combining elements of science fiction, magical realism and African history.

The artistic, musical and literary movement is often traced back to jazz composer and cosmic philosopher Sun Ra, who, in college in the 1930s, had a hallucinatory experience in which he was abducted, brought to planet Saturn and shown a prophetic future.

But the actual term Afrofuturism was first used by critic Mark Dery in his 1994 essay “Black to the Future,” which examined why there were so few black science fiction writers at the time, given the genre’s inextricable links to the other and life on the margins.

“Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?” Dery asks in the text. “Furthermore, isn’t the unreal estate of the future already owned by the technocrats, futurologists, streamliners, and set designers — white to a man — who have engineered our collective fantasies?”

Afrofuturism is often regarded as a cultural genre or style, a re-imagining of African tradition that projects techno-futuristic possibilities. But for Sandy, the movement is more than a literary genre — it’s real life. “It’s not just an ideological thing, it’s how people live,” Sandy explained to The Huffington Post. “Magical realism is used to talk about literature of the other, literature from pretty much everywhere except the West. But I feel like it isn’t just a literary genre, it’s how we understand the earth — an ambulatory cosmology, how we move through the world.”

Read further @ Huffington Post

Graffiti from the Streets

•1,May 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Meet Three Artists Painting the Streets of Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia

It starts with a blank wall — a concrete canvas. Can in hand, a stroke of color, then another and another until what a wall becomes a work of art. The tag is the finisher, letting the world know the mural’s creator.

Graffiti was cultivated in the streets of New York in the 1970s, and in the ’80s the art form made its way to Africa. There, it’s a less established medium, but has a growing community of vibrant artists. Still, they don’t get as much media attention or representation at international festivals as artists from Europe or North America.

This article by Kenny Sokan originally appeared on on April 7, 2016, and is republished here as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Read further @ Global Voices

First Black Caribbean Writing

•1,May 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment


On the First Novel Published By a Black Caribbean Writer in England

In 1963, a black Trinidadian writer published a critical examination of the sport of cricket that would soon become hailed by critics across the globe as one of the greatest books about sports—any sport—ever written. The writer was Cyril Lionel Robert James, better known as C. L. R. James, and the book was Beyond a Boundary. Even forty-two years after its publication, The Observer was able to define the book as the third-best on any sport ever written. V. S. Naipaul called it one of the finest works to come out of the Caribbean. This was a book not just about cricket, but about the important ways in which cricket, culture, colonialism, and race were all tied together, not unlike the way that America’s Negro Leagues in baseball were symbols of both racist oppression and the fight against racism all at once in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The accolades were nothing new for James. In 1938, he had published The Black Jacobins, a study of the Haitian Revolution that assured his fame and that continues to be taught in almost any introductory course today on post-colonial theory.The Black Jacobins was the first study of the Haitian Revolution that set it alongside the French Revolution, and it would forever change the way critics described Haiti’s fight for independence from France as the first black republic in the world. He debated Marcus Garvey and discussed black leadership with Trotsky in Mexico. He was an influence upon the Pan-Africanist movement around the globe. And he wrote many other important books on politics.

With these texts and actions, James, who died on May 19th, 1989, was to become one of the most influential critics in Caribbean history, a man whose shadow still looms over and influences our literature.

Read further @ Huffington Post


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