Page Turn Episode 029

Hello and welcome to Episode Twenty Nine of Page Turn: the Largo Public Library Podcast. I’m your host, Hannah!

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The Spanish Language Book Review begins at 13:34 and ends at 19:00
The English Language Transcript can be found below

But as always we start with Reader’s Advisory!

The Reader’s Advisory for Episode Twenty Nine is A Song For a New Day by Sarah Pinskey. If you like A Song For a New Day you should also check out: The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz, The Resisters by Gish Jen, and A Beginning At the End by Mike Chen.

My personal favorite Goodreads list A Song For a New Day is on is Queer Books About Fictional Plagues.

Happy Reading Everyone

Today’s Library Tidbit is about our new Read Woke Initiative.

Read Woke is a reading initiative that was started by Cicely Lewis a school librarian in Georgia. Lewis saw injustices happening around the country in the news and how it effected her students and decided to educate herself through books, podcasts, documentaries, and through connecting with other people and listening to their lived experiences. From that education she created a reading theme, Read Woke, to share with her students to get them engaged and to get them to self-educate not only about issues that effect them personally but also about issues that are effecting their peers.

According to Cicely Lewis in order for a book to qualify as a “woke” book it must: challenge a social norm, tell the side of the oppressed, provide information about a group that has been disenfranchised, seek to challenge the status quo, and shed light on an issue that many may not perceive as being an issue.

The Read Woke Initiative is being adapted by the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee. This committee, which is made up of library staff from all the different departments, was put together to further the library’s goals of being a more equitable, a more diverse, and a more inclusive place.

You can find the library’s policy and definitions for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion here.

You can learn more about the Read Woke Initiative and join it here. The Read Woke Initiative is open to all ages with activities and materials geared to specific age ranges so everyone in the family and community can join.

And now it’s time for Book Traveler, with Victor:
Welcome to a new edition of Book Traveler. My name is Victor and I am a librarian at the Largo Public Library. Today I’m going to talk to you about a new book we have in the Spanish collection titled The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison.

Synopsis: What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid?

Drawing on her Norton Lectures, Toni Morrison takes up these and other vital questions bearing on identity in The Origin of Others. In her search for answers, the novelist considers her own memories as well as history, politics, and especially literature. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Camara Laye are among the authors she examines. Readers of Morrison’s fiction will welcome her discussions of some of her most celebrated books―Beloved, Paradise, and A Mercy.

If we learn racism by example, then literature plays an important part in the history of race in America, both negatively and positively. Morrison writes about nineteenth-century literary efforts to romance slavery, contrasting them with the scientific racism of Samuel Cartwright and the banal diaries of the plantation overseer and slaveholder Thomas Thistlewood. She looks at configurations of blackness, notions of racial purity, and the ways in which literature employs skin color to reveal character or drive narrative. Expanding the scope of her concern, she also addresses globalization and the mass movement of peoples in this century. National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates provides a foreword to Morrison’s most personal work of nonfiction to date.

Opinion: The book begins with a foreword by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In the foreword, the author tells us about the moment in which Morrison made the Norton Lectures and the situation of American society at that time. Coates attacks existing racism and the policies that promote it. He mentions in the prologue the events of Ferguson, and the racist culture of American society, and how racism exists in the history of the United States and is protected by power. This foreword serves as an introduction to what Morrison explains in the book, and is in itself an interesting read.

Morrison speaks to us in this book about alterity and the differences between human beings due to race, also dealing with the tendency of the human being to separate and judge those who do not belong to the same environment, considering them as the others, the enemy, someone who should be controlled.

Thus, race is established as a crucial element of the differences between people, which, just like wealth, class and gender, have to do with power and the need for control. This part of the book is the most interesting, as it attacks the root of the problem and highlights a series of issues and reflections that are of great interest.

The book, after the prologue, is structured in six chapters: Idealizing slavery, Being the stranger or becoming the stranger, The fetishism of color, The configurations of blackness, Narrating the Other and The homeland of the foreigner. Each chapter will approach the issue of alterity in a different context, while referencing great works of literature and important historical moments for the community.

The author also tells us how literature has been responsible over the centuries to soften the impact of violence against blacks and other minorities, giving literature a layer of romanticism that hides extreme brutality to soften the abuses committed so that white readers are not alarmed by such events.

Morrison also criticizes the vision of Africa throughout the literature, under the vision of Conrad, Bellow, Hemingway, because it has been denigrated turning it into a territory where everything has to be done, as a “fetus that awaits the time to be born.”

Something that I found interesting was when Morrison talks about globalization and its consequences. In the author’s opinion, when idealizing the phenomenon of globalization, we do not notice how it destroys singularities, how the elimination of borders affects territories, and how cultures and territories affected by the phenomenon are weakened.

Literature has influenced the vision that we have of the African continent and also of black people. For this reason, we must open up our perspective, and choose books and resources about other cultures, other people, other societies and even other languages, since any image of reality is biased if only viewed from a single perspective. It is a highly recommended book.

Outro: That is all for today. Until the next edition of Book Traveler. Bye.

Stay safe everyone out there! Check out our virtual programming here and also don’t forget to sign up for our Read Woke Initiative on Beanstack!

For everyone interested our intro music is by Break the Bans and the outro music is by Jahzzar, both artists can be found on Free Music Archive.