Chris Brazier

Teoksen The No-Nonsense Guide to World History tekijä

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Once a writer for the rock music weekly Melody Maker (1977-80), Chris Brazier has been a co-editor of New Internationalist magazine since 1984. He has covered myriad subjects from masculinity to maternal mortality, Panafricanism to the paranormal, and has edited country issues on South Africa, Burkina Faso, Western Sahara, Bangladesh, Iran, China and Vietnam. He edits the country profile section of the magazine as well as its puzzle page. Since 2010 he has focused primarily on commissioning and editing New Internationalist's books and other publications. He has also written regularly for UNICEF's annual The State of the World's Children report since 1997.



The Caine Prize for African Writing is named after Sir Michael Caine, who chaired the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years. Nicknamed the African Booker, the Caine Prize is awarded every year for the best short story by an African author, published in English. The Prize seeks to connect budding African authors with publishers in England and America. Each year the shortlist is published in an anthology along with the stories written at the Caine Prize Workshops. This particular anthology contains the first ten prize winners from 2000-2009, as well as short stories by Nobel Laureates J.M. Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer, and Booker Prize winner, Ben Okri.

The fourteen stories cover a wide variety of perspectives and styles, but the authors were all from one of six countries. I was a bit surprised that there hadn't been winners from a broader selection of countries, but this collection only represents a single decade, so perhaps there has been a wider range since then. Themes of dislocation, the effects of colonization, and war were omnipresent.

"The Ultimate Safari" by Nadine Gordimer (South Africa) is told from the perspective of a child who is escaping with his grandmother and siblings through a game preserve to a refugee camp in a neighboring country. This story was, predictably, very good.

"Nietverloren" by J.M. Coetzee (South Africa) is about a man reflecting on his grandparents farm, once a source of employment and food, which devolved into a tourist attraction for foreigners.

"Incidents at the Shrine" by Ben Okri (Nigeria) is about a salaryman who is laid off and returns to his village where strange and otherworldly things are happening at the local shrine.

"The Museum" by Leila Aboulela (Sudan) was one of my favorite stories. It's about a young woman who is studying statistics in Edinburgh and trying to navigate between her old world and her new.

"Love Poems" by Helon Habila (Nigeria) is written from the perspective of a journalist and poet, imprisoned for reporting on a demonstration. His warder forces him to write poetry to the woman he wishes to seduce. Also very good.

"Discovering Home" by Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenya) is about a young man returning to his village in Kenya and then going to a family reunion in Uganda after having lived in Cape Town for a year.

"Weight of Whispers" by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya) was difficult to read. It's about a princeling who flees his country, which has descending into chaos and genocide after the plane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi is shot down and both men killed. The prince goes from being a diplomat more at home in Europe than Africa, to being a refugee haunted by the role he may have unwittingly(?) played in inciting the violence. His mother, sister, and fiancée pay a terrible price for their life of privilege.

"Seventh Street Alchemy" by Brian Chikwava (Zimbabwe) is about several people whose lives intersect in various ways over the course of a few days.

"Monday Morning" by Segun Afolabi (Nigeria) is about a refuge family in London trying to adapt to their new life.

"Jungfrau" by Mary Watson (South Africa) is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mother teaches children in the townships. She is both jealous of her mother's attentions and happy to be left in the company of her father and glamourous aunt.

"Jambula Tree" by Monica Arac de Nyeko (Uganda) is a stream of consciousness narrative of a girl waiting for her childhood girlfriend and nascent lover to return from abroad.

"Poison" by Henrietta Rose-Innes (South Africa) reads like a dystopian story about a young woman fleeing Cape Town after an explosion at a chemical plant.

"Waiting" by EC Osondu (Nigeria) is about a boy waiting in a refugee camp, hoping to be adopted by a family abroad.

"An Emissary" by Nadine Gordimer (South Africa) is a short social and ecological commentary framed around a young couple on their way to a rave.
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labfs39 | Dec 2, 2023 |
"Most people's ideas of the history of the world is hazy and partial. We know
bits and pieces - battles in a tiny corner of Europe, kings' love affairs -
without ever knowing how they fit together. Here, in The No-nonsense Guide to
World History, are the hidden histories, the continents and communities left
out of the conventional textbooks: from the civilizations of Asia, Africa and
Latin America to the history of women, which have been submerged beneath the
flow of wars and politics. This book teases out the lessons that humanity needs
to take into the 21st century.
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collectionmcc | 1 muu arvostelu | Mar 6, 2018 |
This concise (40,000 words), enjoyable account of world history is an excellent choice for readers who want to tackle the subject without getting bogged down in a thousand-page tome. Brazier's perspective is distinctly Leftist, but that shouldn't bother anyone except the most stubbornly wrongheaded proponents of Right-wing ideology. Occasionally his statements are in error: he says, for instance, that "the mass of people were behind" the Bolsheviks in post-revolution Russia. This is untrue--Lenin's administration did not enjoy a majority of popular support--but Brazier is correct in noting that the USSR was likely doomed from the outset because it was surrounded by countries so hostile to socialism that they did everything they could to sabotage it.

The book was first published in 2001, which makes the author's closing observation seem eerily prescient in 2017: "(W)e can no longer believe that humankind is spiraling ever onward and upward and must discard the idea of historical inevitability. Everything is now up for grabs. New, more equal and caring societies do not flow inevitably from the misshapen sluice gates of the old. The world is ours to change--and if we do not change it, then our descendants will reap a whirlwind that will make most of the events in history hitherto seem small."
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Jonathan_M | 1 muu arvostelu | Oct 14, 2017 |



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Associated Authors

Ovo Adagha Contributor, Editor
Lauri Kubuitsile Contributor
Vanessa Gebbie Contributor
Molara Wood Contributor
Petina Gappah Contributor
Jude Dibia Contributor
Jhumpa Lahiri Contributor
Shabnam Nadiya Contributor
Martin A. Ramos Contributor
Dipita Kwa Contributor
Ravi Mangla Contributor
Sequoia Nagamatsu Contributor
Elaine Chiew Contributor
Skye Brannon Contributor
Wadzanai Mhute Contributor
Ken N. Kamoche Contributor
Chika Unigwe Contributor
Ben Okri Introduction, Contributor
Ana Menéndez Contributor
Okwiri Oduor Contributor
Desiree Bailey Contributor
Heidi North-Bailey Contributor
Edwidge Danticat Contributor
Balli Kaur Jaswal Contributor
Yewande Omotoso Contributor
Nahid Rachlin Contributor
Samuel Munene Contributor
Daniel Alarcón Contributor
Aminatta Forna Contributor
Mansoura Ez-Eldin Contributor
Mathew Howard Contributor
Vanessa Barbara Contributor
Fan Wu Contributor
Viet Thanh Nguyen Contributor
Vamba Sherif Contributor
Olufemi Terry Contributor
J. M. Coetzee Contributor
E.C. Osundu Contributor
Brian Chikwava Contributor
Mary Watson Contributor
Nick Elam Preface
Segun Afolabi Contributor
Helon Habila Contributor
Leila Aboulela Contributor
Nadine Gordimer Contributor


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