Tag Archives: Reza Aslan

The 2017 Evan Yeong Literary Awards

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.

2017

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 A handful were also unpublished manuscripts or ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and have been marked as such.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.


zealot

ALMOST AS COMPLEX AS THEIR NAMESAKE

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
Published 2013

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.

brother

SHOULD HAVE WON THE 2017 GILLER PRIZE

Brother by David Chariandy
Published 2017

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

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When Life Gives You Don Lemon

By now, most of you are probably familiar with the recent scandal involving CNN anchor Don Lemon’s comments to Joan Tarshis, an alleged rape-victim of Bill Cosby. Lemon had blindsided his guest with the question of “Why didn’t you resist”, which beyond being a shockingly insensitive thing to say to any assault survivor, carries with it a host of the most vile, victim-blaming myths imaginable. Time already has an excellent point-by-point take-down of Lemon’s statements, none of which needs my repeating here.

See, I started off writing this post with the intention of revealing the man as nothing more than an inept clown, motivated by bumbling incompetence rather than malice or spite. The more research I did, however, the less I found myself able to support that idea. There’s nothing innocuous or innocent about Don Lemon.

While many of us were probably unaware of Lemon until his “don’t get raped” comments (or his bull**** non-apology, which we’ll get to in a second), I actually recognized him the second I saw him. Back at the end of September, Lemon, along with co-anchor Alisyn Camerota, had an interview with Islamic scholar Reza Aslan.The “interview” (the whole thing seemed more reminiscent of a McCarthyist witch-hunt) swiftly degenerated into an agonizing fear-mongering session- the very memory of which still makes my blood boil. I’ll let the ever-entertaining Cenk Uygur (of “The Young Turks”) break the debacle down for you.

Continue reading