So…better late than never right?
Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard (2017, Profile Books)
Women & Power is a small book that raises lots of big ideas. This takes the form of two essays; one exploring women’s voices in the public space and the other looking more specifically about women in power. I really liked how Beard uses examples from classical thought and our contemporary world to examine the position of women in Western society. In particular, the exploration of how Greek & Roman perceptions of oration and who gets to speak can still be seen driving what we think of when we think about charismatic speakers, and who we listen to. It was also refreshing to read someone argue for a reorganisation of structures, rather than insisting women adapt to fit broken systems which so many argue.
Hamilton: The Revolution by Jeremy McCarter & Lin-Manuel Miranda (2016, Grand Central)
It may seem slightly excessive to write a book declaring your own musical to be a revolution, but the Hamiltome (as it’s known to fans) is an excellent look at the creation of a musical which has become a phenomenon.
Jeremy McCarter writes a variety of essays which explore both the creation of the show, the casting and its longer term impacts, whilst Miranda offers annotations to his lyrics explaining how he came to write them, and which are his favourites. A particular stand-out to me was the essay that came prior to ‘It’s Quiet Uptown’ which is incredibly moving.
The book is also a beautiful item, the paper is heavy which deckled edges and features photos of the original Broadway cast both on and off-stage. If you’re a fan of the show this is a great thing to own, or to gift to someone you know is a bit obsessed.
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (2013, Bloomsbury)
I didn’t really know what to expect going into The Lowland, having purchased it on my Kindle some time ago, and I was really pleasantly surprised.
It follows the story of two brothers, Subhash and Udayan, who during their childhood in Calcutta are inseparable. As they grow older, however, they drift apart, and Udayan becomes increasingly involved in a left-wing political movement and sets in motion a chain of events that will have lasting consequences for Subhash, his parents and his wife, Gauri.
The sense of place in this novel is excellent, and I really liked learning about a period of history that I knew literally nothing about. Lahiri also explores the experience of migrants in America, and their relationship with the people who stay behind, and the changing role of women in modern India.