California Literary Review

Africa

Book Review: The Lower River by Paul Theroux

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August 9th, 2012

She cautions him, “They will eat your money,” she said. “When your money is gone, they will eat you.” Soon after, Hock is awakened in the middle of the night to the beat of drums and strange rituals that he sneaks out to watch. The entire village participates in a dance, thinking he is asleep, mocking him as a white man, acting out harming him. Hock is ready to leave, but he is now under constant surveillance in the small village at the end of the world. Nobody knows he is there and no one will help him.

Book Review: Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles

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August 19th, 2011

Carthage, however, was not merely conquered by Rome. As the title of Miles’ book asserts, Carthage was destroyed. In three brutal wars, Carthage’s military power was annihilated by the legions of the Roman Republic. The city was ransacked and burned, down to its foundations. The people of Carthage were massacred or enslaved. The literature of the city was put to the torch. Not a stone was left upon a stone.

Baloji: Nowhere and Everywhere

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July 21st, 2011

“Over there I don’t feel totally Conogolese, and here, I don’t particularly feel Belgian,” says Baloji, a Congolese/Belgian musician who recently released his second album, Kinshasha Succursale. The story of Africa’s Congo is a long and troubled one, outlined in terrifying honesty by Adam Hochschild in King Leopold’s Ghost (yes, that’s suggested reading). In short, […]

Tom Russell: American Primitive Man

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December 13th, 2010

Every Tom Russell song has something to say about the human heart. In each voice he invokes there are universal echoes of love, doubt, weakness, fear, restlessness and faith. The figure of the wanderer – whether soldier, cowboy, nomad, pioneer, outcast or pilgrim – passes again and again through his work.

The Most Offensive Painting Ever Made

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July 15th, 2010

Yiull Damaso has achieved a true artistic milestone. He has created what is quite possibly the most offensive image ever made. The BBC reports that the forty-one year old South African artist is completing a large painting depicting former South African president and Nobel Laureate, Nelson Mandela as a corpse in the process of being dissected.

Art Review: Object, Image, Collector at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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June 9th, 2010

It’s the photoetching, a 1974 work called “The Train,” that is really breath-taking. It seems to take on the complicated issues of the African Diaspora, the art it produced, and Western views of that art, as well as presenting a moment from the struggle for Civil Rights. The faces that look out at us from the page are communicative and knowing, their gazes complicated and reproachful, and the liquid softness of the watercolor combines with the horizontal lines of the etching to create a beautiful, powerful work you can stand in front of for a long time.

Parag Khanna Discusses The Second World

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March 4th, 2008

“Around the entire world what I see is Europe and China investing into and buying greater shares of foreign economies—and thus gaining significant political and even military leverage over them—at our expense. Power has to be a fair balance among a range of tools, including the military, in order to be used effectively. We’re not doing that now, and I don’t see a good strategy coming out of Washington as to how to do it better.”

Notes From Italy: Villains, Romance, and Views

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February 7th, 2008

Filettino was not always a happy place, in history or in fiction. In the time of the Caesars the people here were Aequi, an Italic tribe of rough herders whom the Romans subdued with difficulty. For many centuries, probably millennia, the Aequi practiced transhumance, leading their herds over the Serra in late autumn to spend the winter in pastures in the Liri valley far below, and returning to the uplands for summer.

An Interview With Jonathan Kaplan

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April 3rd, 2007

“I was in Baghdad as a volunteer surgeon, but operating was difficult. The city’s hospitals had treated many wounded during the bombing, depleting emergency stores. Following the arrival of the Americans, much of the remainder had been looted, the pillage continuing even as staff tried to deal with arriving casualties. Operating rooms resembled charnel-houses, with discarded surgeons’ gloves, crusted dressings and bloody clothes caked underfoot.”

Bush Tea with Alexander McCall Smith

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March 31st, 2007

“I believe that people are very interested in reading about the ordinary things of life. One can make a very simple situation seem interesting — often it is very simple matters that arouse most passions in people.”

Oil and Africa

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March 25th, 2007

[Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from Adam Robert's new book The Wonga Coup: Guns, Thugs and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa.] Africa, overall, has a handy supply of oil. Its known reserves are small compared with the Middle East: it may have 100 billion barrels of […]

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