Bahrain’s Uprising ed. by Ala’a Shehabi and Marc Owen Jones

Bahrain Uprising book against yellow wall - cover shows Pearl Roundabout

note – as this project is about reading writing by women, this review focuses on the chapter ‘Shifting contours of activism and possibilities for justice in Bahrain‘ by Ala’a Shehabi and Luke G.G. Bhatia; Shehabi is a Bahraini writer and researcher who co-founded Bahrain Watch, an NGO that advocates for accountability and social justice in Bahrain

a nutshell: this powerful chapter shares valuable insights into Bahrain’s ‘advocacy revolution’, the topography of opposition actors, and the emerging possibilities for the fight for human rights and, crucially, self-determination

a line: “the sense of self-emancipation experienced in the euphoria of mass protests can be a life-changing personal transformation”

an image: nicknamed ‘the Butcher of Bahrain‘, British officer Ian Henderson makes a brief appearance in this chapter – a figure I learned of (with horror) during my time at the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy

a thought: once again, like so often happens in this project, I was ashamed of my homeland – the UK has consistently enabled the regime’s increasingly ‘acceptable’ mode of repression, for instance, as mentioned here, advising on improved discourse, better surveillance technology, fewer physical marks following torture, and fewer journalists covering developments

a fact: the authors share a bleak statistic from Eric Posner’s ‘The case against human rights‘ – 150 out of 193 countries continue to engage in torture and the number of authoritarian countries has risen

want to read Bahrain’s Uprising? visit here

The Appointment by Herta Müller (tr. Michael Hulse & Philip Boehm)

book 'the appointment' and black coffee on table

a nutshell: this is a disorienting stream of consciousness from a factory worker under Ceaușescu’s regime as she makes her way to an interrogation

a line: “The trick is not to go mad”

an image: when she’s summoned for questioning, the narrator describes the humiliating feeling of how her whole body feels like it’s barefoot

a thought: an obsessiveness about keeping or revealing secrets is an ongoing element; a friend says secrets don’t go away when you tell them since you tell the shells, not the kernel, but the narrator believes if she doesn’t keep something concealed then she’s already exposed the kernel

a fact: in 2009, the Swedish Academy awarded Müller the Nobel Prize in Literature, describing her as someone “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed

want to read The Appointment? visit here