Jesmyn Ward's latest book (following her 2011 National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones) is a powerful memoir of her childhood in rural Mississippi, and an homage to the five young black men she has lost in recent years. The only member of her family to attend private school (paid for by her mother's employer, a wealthy white man whose family's house she cleaned) and go off to college, Ward eventually left the poverty of her upbringing behind. There is no doubt, however, that she belongs to the brutal world she so intimately describes in her memoir. Her examination of the lack of opportunity available to her community, and of how economic hardship, racism, drug addiction, violence, and ultimately hopelessness led to the tragic early deaths of people she loved is heartbreaking, yet necessary. Men We Reaped is an education in what it means to be poor and black “in a country that is supposed to be post-racial but still seems hell-bent on the epidemic destruction of young black men,” as Edwidge Danticat writes in her review.
(Related listening: New Memoir Recounts Black Lives "Reaped" Too Young
Relocating Traditions in China: A fascinating look into the struggle to preserve Chinese rural musical and performance traditions that are slowly being abandoned as more and more Chinese move from villages to urban areas.
Orhan Pamuk guidesThe New York Times’ Joshua Hammer around his native Istanbul. We here at Restless are always thrilled to discover the unfading connection between literature and travel, and this article satisfied our curiosity for both kinds of reading.