For Vesna Maric, the war begins when the machine gun fire in the distance sounds like a sewing machine. As it comes closer, her family’s anxiety grows, prompting them to send her and her sister to Britain via bus. The Bosnian women who board the bus for the four-day trip are in turmoil: Gordana, a 52-year-old who looks like Xena the Warrior Princess, reveals through tears that she is pregnant and must leave her husband in Bosnia; their only English-language interpreter descends into a nervous breakdown; and the weak English coffee only compounds Maric’s confusion and exhaustion.

They arrive in the vivid green of England’s Lake District, greeted by volunteers who carry naive prejudices about refugee behavior and appearance. Unbeknownst to the altruistic British welcoming party, Maric and her fellow travelers are accustomed to a comfortable, middle-class life, and their new “refugee” status comes as a shock.

Maric’s humor and tenderness carry the reader through her love affair with a local boy and her eventual moves to Exeter and Hull. Interweaved are stories of other refugees — stories of love, escape, and burdens of the “refugee” label.

Product Categories: Human Rights, Memoir, and Nonfiction.  Product Tags: Bluebird.  Book Author: Vesna Maric.

A collection of Wanda Phipps’s best poems from her writing project in which she wrote every day right after she awoke, Wake-Up Calls is a fascinating reflection of the many different moods a person can have in the morning and a very personal glimpse into the author’s life (she was moving into a new home at the time). Phipps explores issues of identity and self with a freshness of voice and imagery fortuitously captured in the state between dreaming and fully waking up.

Product Categories: Poetry.  Product Tags: Wake-up Calls.  Book Author: Wanda Phipps.

Book cover for Someday We'll All Be Free

Someday We’ll All Be Free is the indispensable and passionate follow-up to Kevin Powell’s best-selling essay collection, Who’s Gonna Take The Weight? Manhood, Race, and Power in America. Here Powell widens his lens and skillfully dissects the dreams of American freedom and democracy in these early days of the 21st century. Be it the reelection of President George W. Bush, the colossal tragedy of September 11th and the policies and wars that have followed, or the historic destruction of the city of New Orleans before our very eyes, Powell tells us the uncomfortable truths about America, his country, and yours, too. These coolly observant essays, quilted together, firmly establish why Powell is widely considered one of America’s brightest leaders and thinkers.

Product Categories: Current Events, Discrimination & Race Relations, and Nonfiction.  Product Tags: Someday We'll All Be Free.  Book Author: Kevin Powell.

In this witty and exuberant collection of feminist retellings of traditional Japanese folktales, humans live side by side with spirits who provide a variety of useful services—from truth-telling to babysitting, from protecting castles to fighting crime.

A busybody aunt who disapproves of hair removal; a pair of door-to-door saleswomen hawking portable lanterns; a cheerful lover who visits every night to take a luxurious bath; a silent house-caller who babysits and cleans while a single mother is out working. Where the Wild Ladies Are is populated by these and many other spirited women—who also happen to be ghosts. This is a realm in which jealousy, stubbornness, and other excessive “feminine” passions are not to be feared or suppressed, but rather cultivated; and, chances are, a man named Mr. Tei will notice your talents and recruit you, dead or alive (preferably dead), to join his mysterious company.

With Where the Wild Ladies Are, Aoko Matsuda takes the rich, millenia-old tradition of Japanese folktales—shapeshifting wives and foxes, magical trees and wells—and wholly reinvents them, presenting a world in which humans are consoled, guided, challenged, and transformed by the only sometimes visible forces that surround them.

Product Categories: Folklore, Short Stories, and Translation.  Book Author: Aoko Matsuda and Polly Barton.

From an “exceptionally sensitive and perceptive” Turkish writer and human rights activist (Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature), the captivating story of a writer whose own autobiographical novel forces her to come to terms with the dichotomy of the city she once loved: Rio de Janeiro.

Özgür is a young woman on fire: poor, hungry, and on the verge of a mental breakdown. She has only one weapon: her ability to write the city that has robbed her of everything, Rio de Janeiro. Through the reading of the bits and pieces of Özgür’s unfinished eponymous novel, with its autobiographical protagonist named Ö, Özgür’s story begins to emerge.

As Özgür follows Ö through the shanty towns, Condomble rituals, and the violence and sexuality of the streets of Rio, the reader follows Özgür as she searches for a way to make peace with life, a route to catharsis. Together, the two concentric novels reveal the blurry borderline between the two Rio’s — one a metaphor for death, one a city of life. A major hit when it was released in Turkey and Europe, The City in Crimson Cloak is brilliantly evocative and wildly experimental, doing for Rio what Joyce did for Dublin.

Product Categories: Fiction, Gender/Sexuality, Human Rights, and Literary.  Book Author: Amy Spangler and Asli Erdogan.

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