Lola by Junot Diaz: Reshaping the Children’s Book Industry

Written by Kiran Gokal

Junot Diaz, the Dominican-American author of renowned books This Is How You Lose Her and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, recently released a children’s book called Islandborn which focuses on six-year-old Lola, an Afro-Caribbean girl who came over to the United States so young that she has no memories of the island where she was born. At the Texas Library Association this past Thursday, Diaz spoke about his children’s book and not only his own connection to it, but the importance of it within the children’s book industry. The narrative of the novel follows Lola and her fellow classmates, all children who are from somewhere else, as they’re asked to draw a picture of their “first country.” Lola, not recalling any memories of her own, must reconstruct hers by drawing on those of her relatives to remind herself of and to illustrate her home country.

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The Old “New Digital Age”

Written by Sydney Stewart

The world is constantly changing. Innovations occur, technology improves, societal customs shift with the times, and the responsibility is placed on the average individual to accept these changes. Yet with innovation comes a slew of new issues and more developments that must be made. While the digital era brings new challenges, it also welcomes the possibility for further innovation and positive change.  

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African-American-Owned Bookstores on the Rise

Written by Katie Martinez

The number of bookstores owned by African Americans has increased recently from around fifty-four in 2014 to about one hundred and eight today, according to an article in Publishers Weekly.

As many people continue to turn to the internet with sites like Amazon for their literary needs, many of these smaller bookstores are learning how to compete and thrive in the constantly changing market. One bookstore in Washington, D.C., provides tablets to patrons in the store in order to help them find the book they’re looking for. Even the nation’s oldest African-American-owned bookstore is adapting to the increasingly tech-centered industry by emphasizing its online presence. Along with implementing these adaptations, the rise of African American bookstores has also often been associated with the visibility and success of African-American-centered politics.

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Our Bodies, Ourselves—and Our Future, as the Eponymous Publication Announces No New Editions

Written by Abby Adamo

Today we discuss the end of the forty-year run of Our Bodies, Ourselves and what it means for the next generation of women who will grow up without this book updated and in circulation. But first: a story. During my first year of middle school I got a call on my pink razr cell phone from my best friend, asking if I knew what masturbation was because people were starting to talk about it and she was too embarrassed to ask anyone else. I told her, truthfully, that I was at a bakery with my mom and so I couldn’t talk at the moment but would get back to her when I got home. I knew what masturbation was, obviously, it’s just that my mom was around, which would be, you know, awkward. I got home and flipped my parents’ massive, leather-bound dictionary to “ma-” and texted my friend, “um it’s like stimulation of your own genital organs commonly resulting in orgasm and achieved by manual contact, or whatever.” We were both products of the Texas sexual education system and were growing up in a post-internet, pre-smartphone era, when all web history was saved on our family computers. Needless to say, we could have greatly benefited from the guidance of Our Bodies, Ourselves, a book often referred to as the women’s sexual health bible. Fortunately, a search through the health and sexuality section of Barnes and Noble two years later brought us the gospel.

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University of Hawai’i to Digitize 22 Out-of-Print Books

Written by Andi Feddeler

As MobyLives recently reported, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which aims to strengthen and defend humanities and arts through grants and funding to higher institutions, awarded the University of Hawai’i Press a $100,000 grant in order to digitize and distribute twenty-two books that had gone out of print. The Mellon Foundation has partnered with the National Endowment for the Humanities in order to establish the  Humanities Open Book Program, which works to make out-of-print books available to larger audiences.

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Book Snobs, Let’s Not Kid Ourselves

Written by Kevin LaTorre

Perhaps there has never been a clique so easily bruised—and eager to bruise—as writers. A recent article from Literary Hub’s Book Marks, “When Celebrities Write Novels,” inspired today’s musing indictment. The piece lists some novels from A-list celebrities, and includes works from Bob Dylan, Carrie Fisher, Steve Martin, and James Franco. Withholding their own opinions, Literary Hub instead attaches review excerpts to each book, so the unfamiliar receive a quick critical taste. The article was triggered by Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, the novel from actor/journalist/human cigarette/activist Sean Penn, and so I dive down this rabbit hole in his honor. Thanks a ton, Mr. Penn. Truly, I haven’t been so intrigued, confused, and unsettled since your escapade with El Chapo.

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Review: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Written by Kiran Gokal

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is a riveting and transparent novel that follows four characters in 1975 as they navigate the beaten paths of an India governed by the notorious prime minister of the time, Indira Gandhi.  The harrowing effects of the Emergency Act conducted by Gandhi and the political anxiety of the time serves as a backdrop against the compelling lives of four strangers, who are all refugees in their own ways, and are thrust in an uncertain journey together. We follow an uncle and a nephew fleeing persecution, a woman searching freedom from an environment that holds her back, and a young college student too naïve to face the reality of society on his own.

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An Exploration of Diversity in UT Austin’s English Department

Written by Guadalupe Rodriguez

When it comes to diversity in the English Department, I would say that UT Austin is a bit more diverse than other schools. That is to say, I’ve consistently seen diverse groups of literature offered as courses during my three-and-a-half-year journey as an English major.

My second semester, I took Mexican American literature with a white professor, which made the class’ point of view different from what I would’ve imagined. We read some classics such Borderlands: La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua, and my professor guided us on the rhetorical strategies Anzaldua used to write borderland history from her perspective. In addition, we read (our very own) Oscar Casares’ short story, “Brownsville,” and Ana Castillo’s So Far From God. All of these were unique, but effective choices that taught me how to close-read the perspective of Mexican Americans through literature.

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Is Female Villainy All That Bad?: Evaluating Heroines in the Fairy Tales Grimm

Written by Carolina Eleni Theodoropoulos

Looking for heroines in the fairy tales Grimm can get very discouraging. Those few women who do have agency still fail—to my contemporary standards, at least—to qualify as heroines. Women in these stories do not ask for what they want (they probably don’t even know what they want as they haven’t been taught to search for it); they do not claim or define their own identity; they never refuse marriage or children or any task assigned to them, no matter how unfair. To be succinct, they never say no. They politely nod (no smiling) and acquiesce. So it remarkably seems to me—at risk of being controversial—that the closest figure to resemble a powerful, assertive heroine in the Grimm tales is the female villain.

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