Nukes. Virtual reality. A mother's tongue.
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Forum van Rossum

This week's news from:
 Shanghai Lady

At noon on the first Monday of the month, sirens go off all over Holland. They're part of a national security alert system to be activated in the event of a disaster. How appropriate on this day following a weekend of disasters: a purported H-bomb test in North Korea, Thaad missile installation in South Korea and saber-rattling in the US. Those sirens seemed silly to me back in 1989 when I heard them for the first time. So WWII. But now?

It's enough to make you want to crawl under the sheets and wait for the inevitable to rain down. But that's not what a civil rights activist like Reverend William J. Barber would do. Or what any artist worth of the name should be doing. Watch the extraordinary Sea Prayer, an animated virtual reality narrative created by a team of artists in commemoration of Alan Kurdi, a three year old Syrian refugee who drowned off the coast of Italy in 2015.

This week's blog post doesn't rise to the level of these moral calamities. Fujianhua is once again about Shanghai, the very old and the very new. About how language can divide us but bind us as well. And, in keeping with the martial themes of this newsletter, here's a book review of The Tragedy of Liberation, a history of the Communist Revolution by Frank Dikötter.

In other news: I'm thrilled to announce that my blog post Wanderlust was republished last week by Authors Electric. Also had a fab time discussing The Dancing Girl and the Turtle at Forum van Rossum, pictured above courtesy of my friend Tim Rease. If any of you would like me to speak at your book club, let me know. Have books, will travel!

The Art of War
Labels and Charlottesville
McTyeire School for Girls
Not the Booker Prize

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