Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 31, 2014

Encounters: 1st Biennial Conference of IABA- Americas Chapter


Encounters Across the Americas: Archives, Technologies, Methods
June 4-7, 2015
Institute for the Humanities
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA


The International Auto/Biography Association ( was founded in 1999 as a multidisciplinary network of scholars working on all aspects of life writing. Three regional chapters have been established since then: IABA-Europe, IABA-The Americas, and IABA-Pacific Rim. The Americas Chapter of IABA, launched in San Juan, Puerto Rico in July 2013, has the following aims:

  • Fostering the participation of auto/biography scholars across the Americas;
  • Soliciting participation from scholars internationally whose work focuses on auto/biography in the Americas;
  • Identifying research networks and encouraging partnerships among scholars in the Americas; and
  • Supporting graduate students of the Americas working in life writing.The biennial conferences, as well as the contacts and collaborations generated through the IABA-A website (, facilitate these goals.

Across the Americas auto/biographical acts and practices create encounters–with ourselves and our past, with others, with storytelling genres, with language and culture, with economic and political conditions, with historical legacies, with possible futures. The media and arenas of auto/biographical encounters are multiple and heterogeneous: testimony and autoethnography, graphic memoir and ecocriticism, digital media and performance art, popular lyrics and material objects, political forums and family gatherings. We invite proposals for papers and panels that explore auto/biographical encounters of all kinds, particularly encounters with archives, technologies, and scholarly methods for interpreting auto/biographical acts and practices.

Archival Encounters 
Archives document encounters in stories of conquest, invasion, genocide, transportation, enslavement, cultural loss and survival, national expansion and global repositioning, local indigeneity and diaspora. They attest to acts of migration, mobility, conversion, transformation, or re-embodiment. Archives can be large or small, long-lived or ephemeral, drawn from Big Data or fragments. They may include letters, diaries, identity papers, inventories, logbooks, lyrics, or objects in many media: textual, visual, graphic, haptic, oral, aural, material. They encompass myths, memories, personal aspirations, and evidence of public spectacles. While archives can be, and have been, lost, silenced, overwritten, they can also be digitized and exposed as sources of stories to sustain individuals and communities–or disrupt and separate them.

How do life writers across the Americas encounter and use archives? What modes of evidence are discoverable in and through them? What kinds of life stories, acts of translation, and encounters do archives call forth? How are digital technologies enabling scholars of life writing to build archives? What issues of curation, preservation, assemblage, and circulation do archives present?

Technological Encounters 
Technologies may be conceptual, as in Foucault’s sense, or material, analog or digitally enabled. Encounters with technologies enable the recovery of histories of colonial violence, the circulation of postcolonial legacies, and the evocation of posthuman agencies. Technologies are employed in reorganizing ethnic identities and indigenous politics. Via cultural collisions, across contact zones, they produce multi-temporal histories that express the legacies of transport in both new and long-lived forms of witnessing. They point up intersections of geographic and sexual imaginaries embodied in disparate modes, from queer performance art to computer games about gender transition, and register the impact of environmental degradation in the Americas through ecocritical writing.

What is an auto/biographical technology? How have technologies enabled the telling of lives within and across the Western hemisphere, and to what effect? What histories of technology do auto/biographers draw on in constructing their stories? How do technologies facilitate the creation, or collection, or circulation of life narratives?

Encounters with, and as, Method 
Our acts of critical practice are encounters as well. In the medium of storytelling personal stories trace a history, generate a legacy, revision the possible shapes of embodied experience. But the heterogeneous aesthetics and politics of personal storytelling make the methodology of reading life narratives necessarily a choice among possibilities.  What methods of analysis do scholars of auto/biography now rely on?  How is a particular method related to past theorizing of the autobiographical or a larger theory of language, culture, subjectivity, sociality, or politics?

That is, papers might foreground method, asking, for example: What is entailed in performing a deep reading of an individual life story? What reading practices are marshaled in understanding a prosopography as a collective story? What issues arise in assembling an oral history of one or more marginalized subjects? When the focus is the subject, the self, the person, the community, the nation, or the corporation, what kinds of evidence or data are used in the analysis? Are there methodologies that point up networks of life writing practice specific to the Americas, with their long history of both heterogeneous reception and occasional congruence? If some theoretical approaches seem exhausted, what new approach to familiar or emergent forms of life narrative might be productive?

Papers and panels should address aspects of the genres, histories, and politics of life writing that circulate from the Arctic to the Antarctic, the Atlantic to the Pacific, and along the routes of life writing across the Western Hemisphere to distant worlds. Ideally they will pose theoretical and methodological questions of interest in and beyond the humanities. Accessible and provocative papers and panels proposing new terms or employing concepts from other disciplines are eagerly sought to expand claims about life writing for wider publics and conversations.

Specifics of Proposals for Papers, Panels, and Lightning Rounds

  • The length of papers will be restricted to eighteen minutes to enable sufficient time for questions and discussion.
  • Proposals for panels that focus on a single issue or question, with three speakers and abstracts for all panelists, are welcome.
  • “Lightning rounds” on specific one-word concepts or topics, with six participants, may also be proposed; each presentation should not exceed five-seven minutes.
  • When submitting your proposal, please state any media requirements–DVD player, internet connection from your computer, visual projection, audio enhancement, etc.

Because our scholarly association seeks to reflect our multilingual heritage yet communicate collegially across languages and cultures, proposals for papers and panels in Spanish, Portuguese, and French are welcome, although most papers will be presented in English.  If a panel and/or individual paper is delivered in a language other than English, a written English translation needs to be provided by the author two months ahead of the conference for copying and distribution to the audience. In exceptional cases, arrangements can be made for simultaneous translation during question and answer.

Your paper and/or panel title and a proposal abstract of not more than 300 words per paper should be submitted by November 1, 2014, along with a brief biographical statement (100 words) listing name and email address, affiliation and position, major publications, focus of interest in life narrative, language of presentation, and technical requirements. It may be written in English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French. Regretfully, late submissions cannot be considered.

Please send submissions to Shortly after submission you will receive an auto-generated notice that your proposal was received.

Proposers of papers and panels will be notified regarding acceptance by January 15, 2015. The conference website will, by that time, have information on options for and cost of lodging and registration fee, as well as small grants in aid for travel from other countries. Please note that a passport will be required for visitors from all other nations entering the United States, and a visa for most Latin American citizens.

NOTE: The tradition of IABA is that conference attendees attend and participate for the full four days of the meeting. Please plan to make this commitment.

Co-Convenors:Sidonie Smith (
Director, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan
Julia Watson (
Professor Emerita, The Ohio State University

Ann Arbor is an exciting site of encounter. Near Detroit, Ann Arbor combines the congeniality of a Midwestern small town with the cosmopolitan energy of a great university city.  Participants will be able to reach all conference venues on foot from university residence halls and local hotels, and will enjoy a wide range of dining, entertainment, and recreational possibilities. Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a major hub for flights to and within the U.S., is conveniently located 30 minutes from campus, and easy ground transportation is available.


Exhibition continues through Sept 13, 2014

Please join the for the following events:

Saturday, Sept. 6, 12:30pm – Papercasting Demonstration with Robert Craddock, Lan Ding Liu and Rejin Leys

Saturday, Septemebr 13, 1pm – “Table of Reclaimed Contents” Closure Event with Lan Ding Liu and Robert Craddock

Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL)
161-04 Jamaica Ave, Jamaica NY, 11432

Art is all around us, from architectural details to the pattern on the hem of a shirt. The exhibition Local Color takes a close look a detail, meaning, metaphor and materials used by 12 artists with ties to Queens. JCAL’s William P. Miller Jr. Gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 9 to 6, with additional hours (until 9pm) from Tuesday through Thursday.

Ludger K. Balan, Vladimir Cybil Charlier, Robert Craddock, Lan Ding Liu, Laura Fayer, Janet Henry, Joseph A. Isahack, Rejin Leys, Carla Lobmier, Dominique Sindayiganza, Shenna Vaughn, Mary Burton Wheeler

 Check Out

“A tour of ‘LOCAL COLOR’ with Rejin Leys & Carla Lobmier”

on the Qnsmade blog for more info about the exhibition, and


to see photos from the opening reception and learn more about the artists.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 31, 2014

House of Ashes review – Monique Roffey’s Caribbean coup d’etat

house ashes review

A violent episode in Trinidad’s recent history is the starting point for Roffey’s visceral tale of three people caught in the carnage, Lucy Scholes writes in this review for London’s Guardian.

Trinidad-born Monique Roffey draws on a bloody chapter in the country’s recent history for her new novel, House of Ashes – the attempted coup d’etat of 1990. Set in the City of Silk, the capital of her fictional Caribbean island of Sans Amen, Roffey’s novel tells the story of a similarly bungled takeover through the eyes of three people involved: Ashes, a reticent gunman; Aspasia Garland, the country’s environment minister who’s held hostage; and a disaffected street kid turned child soldier.

Told by their charismatic leader that they will be “making history”, the reality that awaits the men who storm the city’s House of Power in the name of reclaiming what is rightfully theirs from corrupt politicians is one of bloody, desperate carnage. Their lives entangled together in the barbed wire of history, Roffey’s three protagonists are forced to re-evaluate their beliefs as each of them learns to shoulder the responsibility for their actions. Roffey’s writing is raw and visceral and she thrusts her readers headlong into the very middle of the action, her pen as powerful as the butts of the guns shoved in her hostages’ backs.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 30, 2014

Carnival is alive and well in Oslo, Norway


Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

Caribbean culture and music are widely celebrated in dozens of European outlets, but one unlikely region is making an extra large amount of noise this Carnival season. Earlier this month, 32 years after the first effort to start a Carnival in Oslo, Caribbean culture returned to the streets of Norway’s capital in a big way. Among the guests who traveled to the city for this year’s celebration was none other than the Soca Viking Bunji Garlin, who has remarked that the celebration was a career highlight.

Large Up spoke with Kele Eribe of Caribbean Islands, the eight-person collective behind Oslo Carnival, who are working to and connect the dots between Norway and the islands year round. Check out the interview and some photos below for an inside look into Oslo Carnival, and be sure to grab the first Carnival mixtape exported from the country, inspired by Kes the Band and the common goal of an endless summer.

LargeUp: How long has Carnival been happening in Oslo? Was this the first year? Who started it?

Kele Eribe: Oslo’s first carnival went down in 1983 and was a big event. They also had an own section inspired by Carnival in Trinidad, I think they called themselves Caribbean Culture Club. The public banned carnival in Oslo because of too much littering, fighting and alcohol in the streets. A group of people are now, slowly but steady, trying to establish carnival in Oslo as a annual happening every summer. 2014 is the first year where the West Indian carnival culture is represented. We are a group of eight people who are working on establishing a scene for soca and dancehall lovers. There are quite a few people in Norway who have been to Trinidad for carnival.

LU: About how many people took part? 

KE: About 150 in our section with costume, apart from that the whole of Oslo Carnival consisted of 11 bands. The carnival is kept small and exclusive  with the intention of making it a bigger cultural happening in collaboration with the public.

LU: How long has there been an audience for soca in Norway? 

KE: Since the 80′s there has been a soca audience. Like I mentioned, there used to be a spot called the Caribbean Culture Club who gave soca to the people. There is a audience today as well—it is small but it is growing. The eight of us that are working with Caribbean Islands have all been in Trinidad for carnival. The project leader Ida, is half Norwegian and half from Trinidad & Tobago, and actually the granddaughter of calypsonian The Roaring Lion.

For a gallery of photos, the original report and a video go to


Black Chronicles II, a new exhibition exploring black presences in 19th and early 20th century Britain, through the prism of photography. Dedicated to the memory of Stuart Hall (1932-2014) [Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]





Free exhibition

Opening reception 11 September, 6:30 – 8:30pm

Autograph ABP presents Black Chronicles II, a new exhibition exploring black presences in 19th and early 20th century Britain, through the prism of photography – particularly studio portraiture.

Many of the images on display have very recently been unearthed as part of our current archive research programme, The Missing Chapter – a three-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This is the second exhibition in a series dedicated to excavating archives, which began with The Black Chronicles in 2011.

Drawing on the metaphor of the chronicle, the exhibition presents over 200 photographs, the majority of which have never been exhibited or published before. As a curated body of work, these photographs present new knowledge and offer different ways of seeing the black subject in Victorian Britain, and contribute to an ongoing process of redressing persistent  ‘absence’ within the historical record.


Black Chronicles II is a public showcase of Autograph ABP’s commitment to continuous critical enquiry into archive images which have been overlooked, under-researched or simply not recognised as significant previously, but which are highly relevant to black representational politics and cultural history today.  For the first time a comprehensive body of portraits depicting black people prior to the beginning of the second world war are brought together in this exhibition - identified through original research carried out in the holdings of national public archives and by examining privately owned collections. This research also coincides with Autograph ABP’s continuous search for the earliest photographic image of a black person created in the UK.

All of the photographs in the exhibition were taken in Britain prior to 1938, with a majority in the 19th century. Alongside numerous portraits of unidentified sitters taken in studios across the UK, the exhibition includes a variety of known personalities, such as a series of portraits of Kalulu, African ‘boy servant’ (companion) to the British explorer Henry Morton Stanley; a carte-de-visite of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, goddaughter to Queen Victoria in a display of over 100 original cards drawn from several collections, and a rare portrait of Prince Alemayehu, photographed by renowned photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.

A highlight of the show is a dedicated display of thirty individual portraits of members of The African Choir, who toured Britain between 1891-93, seen here for the first time. Perhaps the most comprehensive series of images rendering the black subject in Victorian Britain, these extraordinary portraits on glass plate from the London Stereoscopic Company have been deeply buried in the Hulton Archive, unopened for over 120 years.

These are presented alongside those of other visiting performers, dignitaries, servicemen, missionaries, and many as yet unidentified black Britons.  Their presence bears direct witness to Britain’s colonial and imperial history and the expansion of Empire.

They are here because you were there. There is an umbilical connection. There is no understanding Englishness without understanding its imperial and colonial dimensions’ (Stuart Hall, 2008)

The curatorial premise of Black Chronicles II is to open up critical enquiry into the archive, continue the debate around black subjectivity within Britain, examine the ideological conditions in which such photographs were produced and the purpose they serve as agents of communication. Viewers are invited to unpick the authority the archive confers on historic rendering of black experiences and it encourages us all to look beyond established grand narratives.

The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Stuart Hall (1932-2014), and features text and audio excerpts from his keynote speech on archives and cultural memory, held at Rivington Place in May 2008.

Black Chronicles II also marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of Peter Fryer’s seminal book Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (1984).

For the original announcement and a gallery of photos go to


Linton Kwesi Johnson “African Consciousness in Reggae Music”

Linton Kwesi Johnson is a Jamaican-born British national whose work focuses on  African Caribbean cultural expressions in poetry and reggae music, from both sides of the Atlantic. The program of events for Johnson’s brief tenure at NYU-IAAA will include examining these fields of artistic creativity. Johnson will also take the opportunity to draw on the expertise of some eminent friends in the academy with the aim of engaging students and members of the public in the discussions.


Friday, September 19, 2014   /  7:30 pm

PROGRAM: Linton Kwesi Johnson main lecture “African Consciousness in Reggae Music.”
LOCATION: Kimmel Center-NYU, 60 Washington Square South, Rosenthal Pavilion, 10th Floor, NY, NY

Tuesday, September 23, 2014   /   7:00 pm

PROGRAM: An evening of poetry with Linton Kwesi Johnson followed by discussion chaired by British Caribbean novelist and essayist, Caryl Phillips, Professor of English at Yale University.
LOCATION: Kimmel Center-NYU, 60 Washington Square South, E&L Auditorium, 4th Floor, NY, NY

Friday, September 26, 2014   /  6:00 pm

PROGRAM: Mervyn Morris, Jamaica’s poet laureate, talk on Louise Bennett, the mother of Jamaican language poetry followed by discussion chaired by Linton Kwesi Johnson.
LOCATION: D’Agostino Hall, NYU Law School, 108 West Third Street, Room: Lipton Hall, NY, NY

Friday, October 10, 2014   /  6:00 pm
PROGRAM: An evening of Caribbean poetry with Kwame Dawes (Jamaica/Ghana), Lauren Alleyne (Trinidad) and  Vladimir Lucien (St. Lucia) and Olive Senior (Jamaica) reading from their works chaired by Kwame Dawes.
LOCATION: D’Agostino Hall, NYU Law School, 108 West Third Street, Room: Lipton Hall. NY, NY

Programs will be introduced by Dr. Ifeona Fulani, Global Liberal Studies Program, New York University

Space is limited. Programs are free and open to the public. Please RSVP at (212) 998 – IAAA (4222)

ABOUT LINTON KWESI JOHNSON “…the newest and most original poetic form to have emerged in the English language in the last quarter century.”— Fred D’Aguiar, poet and novelist

“…his poetry is meant to recoup lost structures, identities, pure ‘rhythm and roots,’ poetry integrating audience and performer in one collective voice.” — Cyril Dabydeen, World Literature Today

“The name Linton Kwesi Johnson conjures up images of leadership, strong views and direction. He is the acknowledged head of the new wave of performance poets, whose words welded politics and social conscience with a potent challenge to those in power.” — Sharon Atkin, The Caribbean Times

Linton Kwesi Johnson was born in Chapleton, in the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. After moving to London at an early age and later attending the University of London’s Goldsmiths College, he began writing politically charged poetry. While studying at the University of London, Johnson joined the Black Panther movement. He started a poetry workshop, working with other poets and musicians, to address issues of racial equality and social justice. Johnson’s dub poetry, with its culturally specific Jamaican patois dialect and reggae backbeat, was a precursor to the spoken word and rap music movements. Johnson (also known as “LKJ”) remains a prolific writer and performer. His three books of poetry, 1974′s Voices of the Living and the Dead, 1975′s Dread, Beat An’ Blood and 1980′s Inglan Is A Bitch, gained wide recognition, especially among the politically and social conscious. In 2002, Johnson became the first black poet and the second living poet to be published in the prestigious Penguin Modern Classics series. He also released several albums of his work, including Dread Beat An’ Blood and Forces of Victory, both released in the late 1970s; and Bass Culture and Making History, in 1980 and 1984, respectively.

Some of Johnson’s distinguished awards include an Honorary Visiting Professorship at Middlesex University in London (2004), and a silver Musgrave medal from the Institute of Jamaica for distinguished eminence in the field of poetry (2005). His work has been translated into several languages and he has toured extensively throughout Europe, Japan, South Africa, Brazil and other nations. Commenting on why he started to write poetry, Johnson said, “The answer is that my motivation sprang from a visceral need to creatively articulate the experiences of the black youth of my generation, coming of age in a racist society” (The Guardian; March 28, 2012). (Source: “Linton Kwesi Johnson.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web)

For more go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 30, 2014

Student with dreadlocks allowed to remain in Louisiana school


The ACLU of Louisiana said Thursday that it has reached a written agreement with the Plaquemines Parish School Board over a student’s hairstyle, reports. [Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

A Rastafari student who attends South Plaquemines High School and wears his hair in dreadlocks will be able to remain in classes. After he returned yesterday, the student received a written exemption from the school’s hair length policy.

Other issues related to his suspension are still under negotiation, including the school’s responsibility to help the student catch up with schoolwork missed during that period.

The ACLU of Louisiana sent a letter this week to Plaquemines Parish school officials contesting a Rastafari student’s suspension in Port Sulphur for having dreadlocks that extend beyond the top of his shirt collar.

The ACLU letter, written by staff attorney Candice Sirmon, said “John Doe’s religious faith is Rastafari, and wearing his hair in dreadlocks and not cutting his hair is central to his religious beliefs.”

Plaquemines Superintendent Denis Rousselle could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday.

“The school administrators and Mr. Rousselle have prohibited John Doe from returning to school as long has his hair remains in dreadlocks, as his religion requires,” Sirmon wrote.

Sirmon’s letter said that on Aug. 8, the first day of the school at South Plaquemines High School, the student was told that he had to cut his hair and that, when he did not do so, he was not allowed to return to school.

“The school administrators and Mr. Rousselle have prohibited John Doe from returning to school as long has his hair remains in dreadlocks, as his religion requires,” the letter states. “Despite his numerous attempts to attend school, John Doe has been forced to miss 10 of the first 1 days of this school year.”

The ACLU states that it “is unconstitutional under both the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article 1 § 8 of the Louisiana Constitution. Additionally, the school board’s dress code policy is in violation of Louisiana’s Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, La. R.S. § 13:5231 et seq.”

For original reports and more information go to Student with dreadlocks allowed to remain in Plaquemines school

NOTE: It’s a temporary decision; watch the video at the above link.

Background story (August 26-27):

Rastafarian student reportedly punished at school over dreadlocks

ACLU contests Rastafari student’s suspension for wearing dreadlocks in Plaquemines school

Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 30, 2014

CfP: Conference on the Morant Bay Rebellion


Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

Call for Papers

The Terror Spread: The Morant Bay Rebellion and Jamaican History

October 2015

The Social History Project
Department of History and Archaeology,
The University of the West Indies, Mona
The 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica was a watershed episode in British Caribbean history. Between October and November 1865 Governor Edward Eyre issued orders for the execution, beating and unlawful imprisonment of over one thousand free men and women. These atrocities were a panicked response to a struggle for justice in the eastern town of Morant Bay that was organized by members of the colony’s peasant majority denied their full rights after freedom from slavery in 1834. The horrific actions of the government dramatically transformed colonial Jamaican politics. Across the Atlantic events in Jamaica figured prominently in debates on race, freedom, the future of emancipation societies, imperialism, and resistance.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion, the Social History Project of the Department of History and Archaeology, The UWI-Mona, will host in October 2015 a conference on the history and legacies of the rebellion.
The Department invites proposals for individual papers and panels that examine the Morant Bay Rebellion from multiple perspectives. These include, but are by no means limited to:
• The Morant Bay Rebellion and Caribbean historiography;
• Slavery and Abolition;
• Jamaican political history;
• Postemancipation societies;
• The economic development of Jamaica;
• The road to Morant Bay;
• Peasant Resistance in the Nineteenth Century Caribbean;
• The socio-political legacies of the rebellion;
• Punishment and Policing in the colonial Caribbean;
• Gender and Class after slavery;
• The Morant Bay Rebellion in Caribbean Thought and Popular Culture;
• International repercussions of the Rebellion;
• Religion and political change in nineteenth century Jamaica;
• Memory and Memorials of the Morant Bay Rebellion.
Proposals should include name, title of paper, affiliation, and an abstract (no more than 300 words).For more information contact Matthew Smith at

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 4.43.55 PM

With Victor Estrella Burgos now in the third round of the US Open Tennis Tournament, we welcome this celebration of his wonderful story by Michael Powell of the New York Times.

The United States Open is a lovely tennis tournament, with stirring feats of athleticism and an often companionable crowd. Class and ethnic diversity, however, are not its most notable aspects.

The stadium complex was carved out of the most densely populated and working-class park in Queens, and the United States Tennis Association’s relationship with the Latino neighborhoods that lap almost to the lip of the stadium is not always easy. Corona is the nearest neighborhood, but Amagansett is the more frequent summer ZIP code for the wealthier in attendance.

I parked my car on the park lawn and took a jammed U.S. Open bus that cut down a park walking path. A soccer ball bounced loose from a nearby field, and the driver, to her credit, immediately brought the bus to a stop.

Behind me, an I’m-a-very-important sort in a Martha’s Vineyard cap sighed audibly, twice. Why are we stopping, he demanded loudly.

Uh, ’cause we might flatten a few urchins as they fetch their ball?

Victor Estrella Burgos is hoping youngsters in his homeland will be inspired by seeing him play.Estrella Burgos, an Improbable Trailblazer, Takes Aim at U.S. OpenAUG. 2, 2014

Which brings me to Victor Estrella Burgos, a coiled piece of counterprogramming from the Dominican Republic. At 34, which is ancient for world-class athletes, he qualified for the tournament for the first time. He climbed from the exurbs of the tennis world — a year ago, he ranked 300th — to 80th, which places him well into the suburbs of genuine competition.

His opening match on Tuesday pitted him against Igor Sijsling, a long, lean and stoic Dutchman. At first, Sijsling appeared to be in command, his serves like F-15s bearing down on an overwhelmed Estrella Burgos.

Then, in the second set, Estrella Burgos, 5 feet 8 inches (maybe) and wearing radioactive-orange sneakers, went D. R. on Sijsling, which is to describe a variant of going New York on the world. He hurtled about, coming to squeaking stops, grunting, sweating, punching the air in joy or frustration.

The fans responded with rhythmic clapping and loud shouts and groans. Each halt in play brought the chant:

“Vic-tor! Vic-tor!”

“C’mon, Papi!”

A man in the stands stood and spread his arms wide and implored a line judge: “That ball, it was wiiide!”

Midmatch, Estrella Burgos leaned into his fans near the baselines.

“I told them: ‘Please don’t call Sijsling’s ball out all the time. You’re making me confused’,” he said afterward.

As he told my colleague, Ben Rothenberg, a few weeks ago in Washington, “If here we have 10 Dominican people, it’s going to be like 100, for sure.”

For the original report go to

MJ.9781594486005_p0_v1_s260x420Our congratulations to Marlon James for his new book, A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel (Penguin Group, October 2014). The novel centers on the assassination attempt of Bob Marley; this axis connects several decades, many interconnecting geographic regions, and the sundry histories that lead to today’s Jamaica and its diasporic community.

Description: From the acclaimed author of The Book of Night Women comes one of the year’s most anticipated novels, a lyrical, masterfully written epic that explores the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.

Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts—A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the ‘70s, to the crack wars in ‘80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the ‘90s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James’ place among the great literary talents of his generation.

Publisher’s Weekly says: “There are many more than seven killings in James’s (Dayton Literary Peace Prize winner for The Book of Night Women) epic chronicle of Jamaica’s turbulent past, but the centerpiece is the attempted assassination of Bob Marley on December 3, 1976. Through more than a dozen voices, that event is portrayed as the inevitable climax of a country shaken by gangs, poverty, and corruption. Even as the sweeping narrative continues into 1990s New York, the ripples of Jamaica’s violence are still felt by those who survived. James’s frenetic, jolting narrative is populated by government agents, ex-girlfriends, prisoners, gang members, journalists, and even ghosts. Memorable characters (and there are several) include John-John K, a hit man who is very good at his job; Papa-Lo, don of the Copenhagen City district of Kingston; and Josey Wales, who begins as Papa-Lo’s head enforcer but ends up being a major string-puller in the country’s most fateful events. Much of the conflict centers on the political rivalry of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP), which involves everyone from the CIA (which comes off as perennially paranoid about “isms,” namely communism) to the lowest Jamaican gang foot soldier. The massive scope enables James to build an incredible, total history: Nina Burgess, who starts the book as a receptionist in Kingston and ends as a student nurse in the Bronx, inhabits four different identities over the course of 15 years. She is undoubtedly one of this year’s great characters. Upon finishing, the reader will have completed an indispensable and essential history of Jamaica’s troubled years. This novel should be required reading.”

Marlon James was born in Jamaica. He is the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He teaches at Macalester College.

For more information, see

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