Bookshelf: April 19, 2013

Half the Sky

By Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (April 19, 2013) - "From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our era's most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope. They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women's potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it's also the best strategy for fighting poverty. Deeply felt, pragmatic, and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen." (Vintage Books)


Midnight's Children

By Salman Rushdie (April 19, 2013) - "Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India's independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India's 1,000 other "midnight's children," all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts. This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people--a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Twenty-five years after its publication, Midnight's Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time." (Random House)


Midnight's Children
(Film)

Based on the novel by Salman Rushdie (April 19, 2013) - "'Midnight's Children' is an epic film from Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta, based on the Booker Prize winning novel by Salman Rushdie. At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, as India proclaims independence from Great Britain, two newborn babies are switched by a nurse in a Bombay hospital. Saleem Sinai, the illegitimate son of a poor woman, and Shiva, the offspring of a wealthy couple, are fated to live the destiny meant for each other. Their lives become mysteriously intertwined and are inextricably linked to India's whirlwind journey of triumphs and disasters. From unlikely romance of Saleem's grandparents to the birth of his own son, 'Midnight's Children' is a journey at once sweeping in scope and yet intimate in tone. Hopeful, comic and Magical--the film conjures images and characters as rich and unforgettable as India herself."


Living for 32

Featuring Colin Goddard (April 12, 2013) - "On a snowy, windy April day in Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007, young Americans pursued a college education and their teachers engaged in providing it to them. Thirty-two of them died, 17 more were wounded, and six more were injured jumping out of windows. Their lives had collided with that of a tortured loner, whom a judge had written was "fundamentally ill and in need of hospitalization, and presents an eminent danger to self or others as a result of mental illness," or is so seriously mentally ill as to be substantially unable to care for self. One of those wounded was a 21-year-old senior International Studies major from Richmond, Virginia, named Colin Goddard. Goddard played a unique role in the horrific drama that played out at Virginia Tech University on that blustery April day: he was the only person within the building to call the police. Urged by his French professor to dial 911 as the crackle of gunfire came closer to the door of their classroom, Goddard made the call. Shot for the first time, he passed the phone to a classmate who gave the police enough information to get them to the scene three minutes later. Police got into the building, which had been barricaded, six minutes after that. For all the terrible damage that the killer did, the toll of lost lives might have been much higher if it were not for the 911 call started by Colin Goddard and continued by Emily Haas. After recovering and finishing his degree, Colin Goddard decided he was going to volunteer for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the nation's largest gun control organization. And he was going to convince them to sponsor him in wearing a hidden camera and going undercover into gun shows all across America, to prove how easy it is for anyone to buy a gun, with no identification, no Brady background check, and just a wad of cash. Living for 32 is his story." (Cuomo Cole Productions)