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What We’re Reading

Here’s what’s on our nightstands this March.

Ava: I ended up reading Witnesses of the Unseen: Seven Years in Guantanamo in one sitting. Lakhdar Boumediene and Mustafa Ait Idir’s first person accounts of their lives before, during, and after their imprisonment in Guantanamo are harrowing. Out next month from Redwood Press, it’s a necessary read for anyone starting to look at the Bush or Obama administrations with rose-colored glasses—and for anyone who may be getting too complacent about the horrors that are still to come.

Meg: I’m reading Mourid Barghouti’s I Saw Ramallah, which is a really beautiful and haunting tale of exile and return of a poet in the backdrop of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and its consequences on the lived experiences of people being stripped of their homelands. It’s an ode to what it means to be connected to a land, or what makes a land belong to a people or a nation: the histories, the communities, the kinship networks, cultural ties, and so on. It was recommended to me as one of the best works of fiction centering on the occupation, and I can see why.

Sam: 3 Hole Press is a small press committed to bringing new plays to new readers. I’m moved and excited by this mission, given how inaccessible contemporary theater can be. (The press’s director, I should say, also happens to be a close friend.) But even if I were able to see it staged, I’d be glad to hold Aleshea Harris’s Is God Is in print, to pour over, revisit, and learn from with the patient attention it deserves. The play, in which twin sisters hunt down the father who nearly killed them, is not simply about moving through trauma, but neither is it an unambivalent revenge fantasy. Is God Is asks much harder questions about what we owe each other in the name of justice, and about the work of making things right—work one can’t just do by or for oneself, if it can be done at all.

Senti: Just finished our founder, Jessica Valenti’s Sex Object: A Memoir. [Ed. note: Check out our review here.] So much of her New York City teendom felt similar to mine, both in ways that made me laugh and ways that made me feel utterly queasy. This is a difficult book to read, not only because of the experiences of sexism and pain Valenti recounts but also because we as feminists know of the misogynistic vitriol she as a visible progressive female writer navigates on a daily basis. Sex Object offers little redemption; it’s a hard, true look at moving through the world as a woman today — violence, shame, unwanted sexualization, and all. It’s a book I’m sure will stay with me, and one I’d definitely recommend.

Dana: I’ve been revisiting Christina Sharpe’s excellent In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. On Chanelle’s recommendation, I just started Michelle Tea’s Black Wave.

Head over to Twitter to check out what our larger Feministing fam’s been reading this month.

Header image by Cornelia Parker, “Hanging Fire (Suspected Arson),” 1999.

New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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