As laid out in the first-ever Evan Yeong Literary Awards, the purpose of these blog posts has been to provide a retrospective of the books read in the past year. Typically these have been written and published in January, but here we are. Better late than never, as I always say.
This is the first of these awards to be written during my relatively new career in publishing. While I wouldn’t say I have a strong understanding of the ins and outs of what’s hot in the industry, I certainly have a healthier grasp of things, especially compared to past years when I had none whatsoever.
The other notable difference is that the list of books read has been censored in part, due to a number of the books having been unsolicited manuscripts that I was asked to read during my time as an Editorial Intern at Penguin Random House Canada. A handful were also unpublished manuscripts or ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and have been marked as such. You can check out a full list [with the exact dates of when I read each one] at this link.
ALMOST AS COMPLEX AS THEIR NAMESAKE
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
Those who aren’t as familiar with the works of C.S. Lewis should know that “Aslan” is the name of the Judeo-Christian-God-stand-in of that author’s Narnia series. The lion is a complex figure, embodying a dichotomy of a being that is “isn’t safe” while also “good”. Aslan himself is a likewise complicated man, having been raised Muslim, converted to Christianity in his teens, then back to Islam, a faith he continues to practice, and did during the writing of this book. A fascinating fact for both believers and nonbelievers alike is his statement that whether or not he was the son of God, the Nazarene definitively performed miracles.
SHOULD HAVE WON THE 2017 GILLER PRIZE
Brother by David Chariandy
One of many short, powerful works of fiction that I read this year, Brother is as unpretentious and beautiful a novel as you’re likely to find, and a worthy contender for Canada’s loftiest and most coveted literary prize. Shining a spotlight on Scarborough in the 90s, an area that I have (recently) shamefully joked about only “technically being Toronto”, this book would have served as a reminder of the real life stories that are overlooked and underheard.
The actual winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize was Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square, which I read the ARC of. Brother was longlisted. Continue reading
Posted in art, Canada, Christianity, Comedy, food, Islam, literature, race, relationships, religion, review, science, sex, writing
Tagged An Ocean of Minutes, Anonymous, Beauty Queens, Blink, books, brother, David Chariandy, E. V. Cunningham, Evan Yeong Literary Awards, Horns, horror, Joe Hill, Joey Comeau, Joy Kogawa, Libba Bray, literature, Malagash, Michael Pollan, novel, Obasan, race, relevant, Reza Aslan, romance, satire, Ted Dekker, The Botany of Desire, The Case of the One-Penny Orange, The Incest Diary, Thea Lim, Zealot
This was the image I stumbled across as I was pondering what to write about today:
Click image above for the actual imgur post.
“The world is not only for Muslims.”
That was the focus of the person who posted this image, but I found his Islamophobic sentiment to be a whole lot less interesting than the way he chose to show it.
There’s any number of pictures out there that could convey the same sentiment, but he zeroed in on the one with men in saffron robes. Why?
“When even Buddhists don’t like you – you know you’ve ****ed up.”
Because they’re Buddhists, right?
Everyone knows Buddhists.
They’re the nice people with the shaved heads and bare feet. The ones with that perpetual look of serenity and profound wisdom. The ones who practically ooze peace and goodwill out of their chakras.
It’s the thing that Jack Kerouac and all the beatniks fell in love with. The thing that melded so beautifully with the hippies in the 60s. Love, altruism, placidity – that’s what Buddhism is, right?
Or maybe it isn’t. Continue reading
Posted in bizarreness, government, history, Islam, morality, news, politics, religion
Tagged Animal abuse, animal rights, Buddhism, Buddhist, Burma, Dalai Lama, ethnic cleansing, genocide, Islam, Jain, Mahayana, Muslim, philosophy, Phra Dhammajayo, Phra Dhammakaya, religion, Rohingya, Tamil, Temple, terrorism, The Rime Movement, Theravada, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thich Quang Duc, Tibet, Vajrayana, Wat Phra Dhammakaya
These are the facts:
Last Wednesday, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani – two Indian-born engineers living and working in the US – stepped into Austin’s Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas. As they had done so many times before, they ordered drinks and unwound after a long day of work. On this particular evening however, Kuchibhotla and Madasani were approached by another patron, Adam Purinton, who began to shout racial slurs at the two men and demanded to know “Which country are you from? Are you here illegally?”, before shouting “Get out of my country!”
Purinton was thrown out of the bar, only to return with a gun, opening fire on Kuchibhotla and Madasani. Kuchibhotla was killed and Madasani was injured, along with twenty-four year old patron Ian Grillot, who attempted to subdue Purinton. Purinton fled on foot, and was next seen five hours later at an Applebees across the state line. Purinton claimed openly to having killed “two Middle-Eastern men.” Purinton was promptly arrested and extradited from Missouri back to Kansas, where he has been charged with first-degree murder, bail set at two-million dollars.
Once again, these are the facts.
What follows is the tricky part.
How do I write about this – any of this – without devolving into incoherent rage? After all these tragedies over all these years, have we gotten any closer to make sense of the senseless?
Perhaps I could write about how Indians and Sikhs have repeatedly been the targets of hatred intended for Arabs and Muslims. How ever since 9/11, an entire group of people who have done nothing – nothing – to harm the US have been harassed, belittled, and even murdered.
Posted in Asia, crime, government, Islam, morality, news, politics, race, religion
Tagged Adam Purinton, Alok Madasani, Anne Coulter, Arab, Austin's Bar & Grill, Cliven Bundy, Deport, hispanic, India, Indian, Islam, Islamophobia, Kansas, Latinos for Trump, massacre, michelle malkin, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Muslims, Nikki Haley, Oak Creek, Olathe, Sikh, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, Tim Scott, Travel Ban
There’s an old Arab quote that roughly translates to “Don’t tell me about a man, tell me about his friends.” i.e, you are the company you keep. In spite of the present efforts for a recount in certain key states, we are still very much bracing for a Trump presidency, and perhaps worse yet, a Trump cabinet. Let’s get to meet our new fascist overlords:
Ambassador to the United Nations: Nikki Haley
Born to Sikh Indian parents, Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley earned acclaim for her decision to remove the Confederate flag from state grounds. While maintaining a number of hardline positions- especially in terms of immigration- Haley again made headlines with her early criticism of then-candidate Trump. Criticism that earned her calls to be deported.
Deported to exactly where remains a mystery, as Haley was born in America. But as plenty of Trump supporters imagine America to be an inherently white country, they showed no qualms about reminding Haley (and people of color) that their presence in this nation is merely tolerated…
Image retrieved via Policy.Mic
Which makes Trump’s decision to offer her UN ambassadorship surprising, and Haley’s acceptance even more so. But perhaps that’s just to show how much the Republican party has chugged the Kool-Aid. A woman who, simply because of her first name and her skin tone, received calls for her “deportation” is now the international face of the same “siren call of the angriest voices.” Certainly it’s a chilling picture of what’s to come, and enough to silence anyone claiming that the house and senate will somehow act as a counterbalance to Trump’s Fourth Reich. Continue reading
Posted in bizarreness, feminism, gender, government, Islam, lgbt, military, morality, politics, race, religion
Tagged Alt-Right, Attorney General, Betsy DeVos, bigotry, Black Sites, Breitbart, Cheif of Staff, CIA Director, Deport, deportation, Donald Trump, Islamophobia, Jeff Sessions, KKK, Michael Flynn, Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor, Nikki Haley, race, racism, Reince Priebus, Secretary of Education, South Carolina, Steve Bannon, torture, UN Ambassador, weed, Xenophobia
France has long held a ban on overt expressions of religion in public, being one of the first European countries to have banned full face covering in public in 2010. While similar laws have gained traction in neighboring countries, following the tragic Bastille Day massacre in Cannes a number of French coastal towns have passed ordinances banning the “burkini”, a swimsuit for conservative Muslim women.
No, not that one. That’s a wet suit.
No, that’s also a wet suit.
There we go.
But I’m guessing you can see the problem already. Continue reading
Posted in bizarreness, Europe, fashion, feminism, gender, government, Islam, morality, news, politics, religion
Tagged Bastille Day, burka, Burkini, Cannes, Culture, Egality, feminism, France, Fraternity, Hijab, Laicite, Liberty, modesty, nice, niqab, religious freedom, saudi arabia, Secualarism, Wetsuit
In 2014, I became familiar with the career of one Mr. Don Lemon, a young, charismatic news anchor over at CNN. I say “news anchor” because that’s what they call him. I assume the more accurate title of “Shameless Propagator of Tabloid Drivel Making A Mockery of Journalism” wouldn’t fit on the business cards.
Yeah, I’m not a fan.
In fact I went so far as to dub Lemon “one of the most destructive forces in culture.” A harsh accusation, but I’d argue not an unfair one. And so I try to keep tabs on the guy, hoping against hope that a Google search of his name will not result in some fresh wave of misinformation, Islamophobia, and general fearmongering nonsense. So is this our lucky year?
I’m afraid not.
Here’s what the country’s lousiest news anchor has been up to since we last checked in:
Asking A Muslim Lawyer If He “Supports ISIS”
By Muslim lawyer, I mean Arsalan Iftikhar, esteemed human rights lawyer, adjunct professor at DuPaul, and internationally recognized author and intellectual. And no, Lemon did not ask Iftikhar that question to establish for the audience that Muslims don’t automatically support terror. You can see the pained shock on Iftikhar’s face and the obliviousness on Lemon’s. And to be clear here, Lemon’s exact words were:
“Do you support ISIS?”
That was it.
No set-up, no context, no follow-up. Just an insulting question that was (if intentional) designed to rile up Iftikhar or (if unintentional) so blithely dumb that it could have come from-
-well, the likes of Don Lemon.
That said, baiting Muslim guests for for ratings is par for the course where Lemon is concerned, but the blatancy here seems just plain painful. I shouldn’t have to explain that one might ask with equal legitimacy if Don Lemon supports the Crips on the basis of his race, or if he supports the LRA on the basis of his religion.
But asking for a bit of incisiveness from news anchors is clearly demanding too much. Continue reading
Posted in America, bizarreness, celebrity, government, Islam, media, morality, news, politics, religion, television
Tagged anchor, Arsalan Iftikhar, Bernie Sanders, bigotry, Black Lives Matter, BLM, cnn, Crips, David Clarke, DNC, Don Lemon, ISIS, Islam, journalism, LRA, Melina Abdullah, Muslim, news, police, race, racism, respectability politics