Courtney Young, November 28, 2012 (view all comments by Courtney Young)
Harlem is Nowhere is one of the best books that I've read all year. In the way that Joan Didion writes about California and Suketu Mehta wrote about Bombay, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts has done the same for Harlem. An exhaustive and well-written account of the cultural, historic, and political legacies of one of America's most well-known cities, Harlem is Nowhere is not to be missed!
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Little Brown and Company -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Rhodes-Pitts, an essayist and recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award, takes as her title a 1948 essay wherein Ralph Ellison describes 'nowhere' as the crossroads where personal reality meets the metaphorical meanings attached to people and places. A transplant to Harlem from Texas, Rhodes-Pitts began a personal journey into the iconic neighborhood, poring over Harlem in literature and life, reading its empty lots and street scenes, its billboards and memorials for clues to what it means to inhabit a dream (that fabled sanctuary for Black Americans) and a real place (the all too material neighborhood buckling beneath relentless gentrification). Acutely conscious of the writer's simultaneous role of participant in and recorder of present and past, Rhodes-Pitts weaves a glittering living tapestry of snatches of overheard conversation, sidewalk chalk scribbles, want ads, unspoken social codes, literary analysis, studies of black slang--all if it held together with assurance and erudition. Like Zora Neale Hurston (whose contradictions she nails), she is 'tour-guide and interpreter' of a Mecca cherished and feared, a place enduring and threatened that becomes home. (Jan.) Bard, the head of nonprofit advocacy group American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, takes a historical look at the relationship between the United States and the lobbying efforts of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. Bard examines these relations over time and argues that many of the political actions taken by the U.S. have been aimed at appeasing this lobby; even decisions surrounding the establishment of Palestine, he suggests, were influenced by lobbyist complaints. To Bard, there's no mistaking the main motivation behind U.S. interest in Arab lands, and as far back as the mid Ã¢Â€Â˜30s, the U.S. recognized the strategic importance of Arabian peninsula oil. Bard examines the lobby's beginnings, going back to 1917 when England's call for a Jewish homeland in Palestine sparked opposition, to their current 'brainwashing' of children ('American taxpayers... subsidize... K-12 education materials on the Middle East that have been created under Saudi auspices') to the 'conspiracy theory' woven by the authors of The Israeli Lobby. A subject this intrinsic to U.S. foreign policy deserves a more rigorous examination than what Bard can undertake, given his position of advocacy. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Jake Makes a World follows the creative adventures of the young Jacob Lawrence as he finds inspiration in the vibrant colors and characters of his community in Harlem. From his mother's apartment, where he is surrounded by brightly colored walls with intricate patterns; to the streets full of familiar and not-so-familiar faces, sounds, rhythms, and smells; to the art studio where he goes each day after school to transform his everyday world on an epic scale, Jake takes readers on an enchanting journey through the bustling sights and sounds of his neighborhood.
Includes a reproduction of an actual Migration series panel.
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