Edwidge Danticat’s Favorite Books of 2009

The Progressive has published a short piece by Edwidge Danticat listing her favorite books of the year. Here is her list and the reasons why she has selected these three.

Zeitoun (McSweeney’s), by Dave Eggers. I first read about Abdulrahman Zeitoun in a book of oral histories about Hurricane Katrina published by McSweeney’s. Zeitoun, a Syrian American contractor survives Katrina, even manages to save some lives, only to fall victim to the trappings of the Bush-era Department of Homeland Security. Dave Eggers works some of the same magic here that made his novel/biography What Is the What such a powerful read. Gripping, lyrical, and so real it makes you ache.

The Thing Around Your Neck (Knopf), by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’ve been a huge fan of this young Nigerian novelist’s work since her debut novel, Purple Hibiscus. Half of a Yellow Sun, her second novel which is set in the time of the Biafran War, was a tour de force in her still blossoming career. The Thing Around Your Neck, her first collection of stories, displays the mastery and power of her previous work, while allowing us to take sometimes much-needed breathers. The opening story, “Cell One,” shows a turbulent young man’s brutal awakening to the pain he and others inflict. The final story, “The Headstrong Historian,” takes us through several generations as a young woman claims her rightful place and legacy.

How Lincoln Learned to Read: Twelve Great Americans and the Educations That Made Them (Bloomsbury USA), by Daniel Wolff. You hear it everywhere these days. Our nation’s educational system desperately needs fixing. Lest the health care debate and the uproar over President Obama’s school address scare you from wondering when education reform will come, you need to read this book. No child, or adult, is left behind here. From Benjamin Franklin to Sojourner Truth, the author shows us how some of America’s most influential people got their education. We learn much more than how Lincoln and others learned to read. We also learn how we can be better educated ourselves.

Originally published at http://www.progressive.org/books1209.html

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