A personal insight into race, travel and migration

Traveling while it is black
From Nanjala Nyabola
Hurst, 99 14.99
Nanjala Nyabola is a very self-aware guide in this personal research on struggle, travel and immigration in the 21st century. It describes experiences that many Irish readers would find familiar, exploring them with depth and insight and a keen vigilance for difference. Arrives in Haiti after the earthquake as the only black member of a group of law students. fights altitude sickness and racism while traveling to Everest base camp. Although her voice is that of an educated and cosmopolitan world traveler, Nyabola draws attention to the contrast of this learned voice with her often stigmatized body: young, woman, with black skin and a Kenyan passport. Often beautifully written, the book is rewarding on many levels, especially when personal and political issues come together. – Carol Balladin

The Midlife Mind: Literature and the Art of Aging
By Ben Hutchinson
Reaction books, 20 £
Ben Hutchinson has reached middle age (43) and uses his own aging experience and what some famous middle-aged writers have said to explore its meaning. It first sets the cultural context (it turns out that the “middle age crisis”, like Philip Larkin’s “sexual intercourse”, started as a concept in the 1960s), based on ancient and modern philosophers but especially on Michel de Montaigne, who he retired from political and social life in his mature old age of 38 to compose his famous essays. Hutchinson then skillfully invokes a wide range of creative writers, including Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, George Eliot, Henry James, Cs Eliot, Samuel Beckett, and Simone de Beauvoir, and their views. It comforts him that some of the best works of art have been produced in middle age. – Brian May

Border Wars: Tomorrow’s conflicts
By Klaus Dodds
Ebury Press, 20 £
Dodds examines many future conflicts in this fascinating and informative study: borders change because of landscape and environmental change. dead ends; unrecognized borders; borders are evolving due to technological innovation, such as those in space and under water that are secretly marked by some countries. And viral borders, something we all know now. In this context, Dodds believes that the Covid-19 pandemic could see a sharp drop in international cooperation and openness, especially if “geopolitical sovereignty” is in place. However, he remains optimistic about future relations between nations, which may be forced by new border emergencies resulting from climate change, as well as war / persecution. Somewhat ominous at the moment, he notes, there is no international legal recognition of the “refugee for climate change” category. – NJ McGarrigle

Comments are closed.