The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka

Rice Mother book with tree and orange fruit hanging on cover, plain green background

a nutshell: this often dreamlike debut novel follows the generations of a family cursed with adversity in Malaysia – through the Japanese occupation and beyond

a line: “Under her skin are fine ancestors. They are there in her hands, her face, and the shadows, happy and sad, that cross her face”

an image: I was surprised to see Australia make a brief appearance halfway through the novel during an affectionate moment between Lakshmi and her granddaughter; Lakshmi decides to begin telling Dimple all the family stories so she could leave them in her care, then one day her granddaughter announces that she’ll be creating a dream trail of their history, like Aboriginal communities “in the red deserts of Australia” do

a thought: while recalling her devastation at leaving her mother for a forced child marriage, Lakshmi reflects on how life had yet to teach her that a child’s love can never equal a mother’s pain – something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently in comparing the way I feel about my father (in light of & in spite of his flaws) with the way his mother feels; I also wanted to mention that sometimes the vitriolic descriptions of Japanese men’s appearances (e.g. p126) were an uncomfortable distraction from the events themselves

a fact: in an interview Manicka shares how her mother would tell stories over dinner and explains that storytelling is a very natural part of Malaysian life

want to read The Rice Mother? visit here

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis

Red book cover with text reading: Angela Y Davis, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle

a nutshell: across 10 chapters ranging from interviews to essays to speeches, Davis incisively analyses the need to end state violence & oppression both within the US and around the world, and explores the importance of intersectional mass movements in working towards this

a line: “When one looks at the civil rights era, it was those mass movements—anchored by women, incidentally—that pushed the government to bring about change. I don’t see why things would be any different today.”

an image: it is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope & optimism

a thought: Davis discusses how the Black liberation movement was not only about formal rights to participate fully in society, but also substantive rights – jobs, free education & healthcare, affordable housing, an end to racist policing – and urges everyone to look up the Ten-Point Program of the Black Panther Party

a fact: citing Michelle Alexander, Davis notes there are more Black people incarcerated & directly under the control of correctional agencies in the second decade of the 21st century than there were enslaved in 1850

want to read Freedom Is a Constant Struggle? visit here