Author: Duke University Press

The Best Books We Read in 2018

From literary fiction to graphic novels, we love to read at Duke University Press! In this post, our staff members share their favorite reads from the past year. We hope you enjoy their suggestions, and maybe find a few gift ideas for the holiday season.

Akwaeke_EmeziElizabeth Ault, Acquisitions Editor, recommends two books this year: “The best book I read in 2018 is definitely Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, the story of an Igbo-Tamil person whose bodymind is host to several ancient spirits/gods. It’s a stunning, poetic exploration of Igbo cosmologies, as well as of migration, gender, and dis/ability. The multiple voices in the book are brilliantly realized and distinctive, until they aren’t. I can’t wait to read it again.”

Alexander_MastersLiz Beasley, Managing Editor, recommends a biographical detective story: “I loved A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip by Alexander Masters. When Masters finds a large collection of diaries in a dumpster, a very slow (five-year) chase ensues as he tries to find their author. At turns fascinating, dull, and suspenseful, and full of charming Britishisms, this memoir/detective story is a delight. Spoiler alert: illustrations and photographs are included, so avoid the temptation to flip through the pages for clues!”

Jordy_RosenbergCourtney Berger, Executive Editor, recommends a debut LGBTQ-themed novel: “I tore through Jordy Rosenberg’s Confessions of the Fox during my summer vacation. A salty and smart retelling of the life of Jack Sheppard as a trans man, Rosenberg shows us an 18th-century London in the throes of imperial expansion and where the violences of racism, gender normativity, and class hierarchy are being countered by resistance. The book is framed by the story of Dr. Voth, whose discovery and annotation of Sheppard’s narrative likewise reveals the brutally extractive world of the corporate university as well as ongoing defiance to it. Great read for folks who love fiction and scholarly footnotes!”

Claudia_RankineJocelyn Dawson, Journals Marketing and Sales Manager, recommends the subject of a recent DUP staff book discussion: “The Press’s Equity and Inclusion group selected Citizen by Claudia Rankine for discussion in November. This beautifully written book intersperses art, poetry, and short essays to create a chilling portrait of racial aggression in the US. The book topped ‘best of the year’ lists for 2014 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and the L.A. Times Book Prize, among many other awards.”

Alexandra_RowlandJessica Malitoris, an intern in Books Marketing, recommends a fantasy novel: “Alexandra Rowland’s A Conspiracy of Truths is a fantastic tale about the power of stories, for good or ill. Chant, a traveling storyteller, finds himself on trial in a strange country for witchcraft. His desperate attempts to talk his way out of execution have repercussions not just for himself but for the entire country. Rowland’s writing—forceful, full of personality, and yet delicate—is a joy to read. I heartily recommend this book to any lovers of fantasy and perhaps even those who might not normally enjoy the genre.”

Patrick_NathanMichael McCullough, Books Marketing and Sales Senior Manager, recommends three LGBTQ-themed books this year: “Patrick Nathan’s Some Hell is the sad and powerful story of how a Minnesota family comes apart in the wake of a suicide. The focus is on the gay teenaged son and the mother, who are both—separately and in secret—reading through and protecting each other from the deceased father’s obsessive journals/notebooks, trying to understand his life and figure out how to keep going. It is hard to believe that this is a first novel, given the pinpoint control and maturity Nathan displays.

Andrew_Sean_Greer“On a much lighter note, I also read Less, Andrew Sean Greer’s hilarious novel about a minor gay novelist who puts together a deranged book tour to avoid his ex-boyfriend’s wedding. In a similar vein, My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley (one of my favorite writers) also features a middle-aged gay man who decides to flee San Francisco to escape the consequences of a failed relationship. McCauley’s three main characters are so funny, so appealing, so human, and so beleaguered by life that I was praying for a happy ending.”

Laurent_BinetChris Robinson, Copywriter in Books Marketing, recommends a book of literary fiction: “The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet is part detective caper, part alternative history, and a completely hilarious send-up of critical theory. Following the quest for Roman Jakobson’s mythical ‘seventh function of language’—which gives its possessor the ability to dictate the actions of other—readers learn the ‘real’ reason Althusser killed his wife, the motivations of the driver of the laundry truck that killed Barthes, Kristeva’s spycraft, a secret debate society, and a surprise revelation about Barack Obama. Anyone who has read even a bit of French theory should love this book.”

Emil_FerrisDan Ruccia, Designer in Journals Marketing, recommends a debut graphic novel: “My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris is a totally engrossing graphic novel about childhood, fitting in, Chicago in the late 1960s, monsters of various sorts, a mysterious murder, and so much more. The artwork is so vibrant and active, down to the lovingly recreated monster comic book covers that appear throughout. Can’t wait for the second volume!”

Celeste_NgLaura Sell, Publicity and Advertising Manager in Books Marketing, recommends a 2017 novel: “My favorite read of 2018 was Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. It’s the story of the apparently perfect Richardson family who live in apparently perfect Shaker Heights. Their perfect world is shattered when their close friends adopt a Chinese-American baby. The compelling story and carefully written characters bring up some uncomfortable truths for ‘liberal’ white readers without being overly preachy. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a day and a half!”

Gerard_ReveMatt Tauch, Book Designer, recommends The Evenings by Gerard Reve: “I wasn’t aware of this author or his ‘Dutch postwar masterpiece’ before chancing upon a review in the Guardian some time ago. It was one quote from that review—‘I take cards out of a file. Once I have taken them out, I put them back in again.’—that made me think ‘this sounds perfect.’ And, for me, it nearly was. Dry, dark (morose, occasionally to the point of macabre), and quietly hilarious, The Evenings follows our man Frits through ten droll days and damp Amsterdam nights leading up to New Year’s Eve 1946, his persistent neuroses forever in tow (others’ creeping baldness is of particular concern). But books aren’t all about content, right? Please consider also that this is the first and only English translation, and Pushkin has packaged it beautifully: wrapped in a gorgeously illustrated uncoated jacket and tucked in between the most precious light pink end papers.”

Oyinkan_BraithwaiteErica Woods Tucker, Production Coordinator, recommends My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: “This is such a smart, funny book that takes on themes of feminism while taking you through a wild romp into the lives of two sisters, one of whom obviously has the better end of the relationship. It’s a short book, so you can read it in one sitting. But since it’s short, I can’t give much away; but I will say, ‘This isn’t your average serial killer book.’ So if you like mystery-thrillers that make you think and laugh a bit, this one is for you.”

Thanks to our staff for another year of great reads and recommendations! We look forward to expanding our collective literary minds in 2019.

The Authoritarian Personality

The most recent issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, “The Authoritarian Personality,” edited by Robyn Marasco, is now available.SAQ_new_pr

In response to the recent rise of neo-fascist movements around the world, the intensification of racist violence against black and brown people, the reactionary backlash against feminism, and the crisis of neoliberal capitalism, contributors to this special issue of SAQ offer a reappraisal of The Authoritarian Personality (1950) that yields fresh insights and new resources for contemporary critique.

While arguably the first major contribution to the field of political psychology, the book by Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson, and R. Nevitt Sanford has been relegated to the margins of Frankfurt School critical theory, even as an industry of scholarship has formed around Adorno’s philosophical and cultural criticism. By focusing on The Authoritarian Personality and its relevance for contemporary politics, the contributors aim to correct this imbalance and assess the empirical project in early critical theory, including its integration of political sociology and social psychology.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction, made freely available.

Three New Journal Partnerships for 2019

In 2019, Duke University Press will begin publishing three journals: Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature, and the Illinois Journal of Mathematics. Read on to learn more about these new journal partnerships.

CaptureCritical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory is an open-access, online journal established by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs with the aim of foregrounding the global reach and form of contemporary critical theory. Its content is currently hosted here and will soon move to our website. Critical Times reflects on and facilitates forms of transnational solidarity that draw upon critical theory and political practice. It seeks to redress missed opportunities for critical dialogue between the global South and global North and to generate contacts across the current divisions of knowledge and languages in the South and across the peripheries. The journal publishes essays, interviews, dialogues, dispatches, visual art, and various other platforms for critical reflection that engage with social and political theory, literature, philosophy, art criticism, and other fields. It also publishes texts that shed light on contemporary practices of authoritarian and neo-fascist politics, nativist and atavistic cultural formations, economic exclusion, and forms of life where different, emancipatory social worlds might be imagined and articulated. The journal’s editors are Anuj Bhuwania, Judith Butler, Robin Celikates (Commissioning Editor), Rodrigo De La Fabián, Samera Esmeir (Commissioning Editor), Nadia Yala Kisukidi, Ramsey McGlazer, Juan Obarrio (Commissioning Editor), and Katharine Wallerstein.

PSM_14_2_to_15_1_cover

Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature presents cutting-edge research on modern literary production, dissemination, and reception in China and beyond. It also publishes works that study the shaping influence of traditional literature and culture on modern and contemporary China. Prism actively promotes scholarly investigations from interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives, and it encourages integration of theoretical inquiry with empirical research. The journal strives to foster in-depth dialogues between Western and Chinese literary theories that illuminate both the unique features of each interlocutor and their shared insights into issues of universal interest. Prism is edited by Zong-qi Cai and Yunte Huang and is a new incarnation of Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese (JMLC), founded in 1987 by the Centre for Humanities Research of Lingnan University.

IJM_new_pr

Founded in 1957, the Illinois Journal of Mathematics (IJM) featured in its inaugural volume the papers of many of the world’s leading mathematicians. Since then, IJM has published many influential papers, including the proof of the Four Color Conjecture, and continues to publish original research articles in all areas of mathematics. The quarterly journal is edited by Steven Bradlow and sponsored by the Department of Mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The editorial board comprises a mix of preeminent mathematicians from within its host department and across the mathematical research establishment. Learn more about this publishing partnership.

Check dukeupress.edu/journals for these journals, coming soon.

National Women’s Studies Association, 2018

We enjoyed meeting authors and editors, selling books and journals, and celebrating prize-winning works at the 2018 National Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia!

Amber Cary

DUP Digital Access and Journals Specialist Amber Cary

Congratulations to several of our authors who received awards at the conference:

Jasbir Puar’s book, The Right to Maim, was co-winner of the Alison Piepmeier Book Prize.

Attiya Ahmad’s book, Everyday Conversions, won the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies Book (AMEWS) Award.

Miglena S. Todorova’s article, “Race and Women of Color in Socialist/Postsocialist Transnational Feminisms in Central and Southeastern Europe,” won the Paula J. Giddings Best Essay Award. It was featured in a past issue of our new journal Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, an interdisciplinary feminist journal that publishes creative work by and about women of color in U.S. and international contexts, and is now available free for six months.

 

Together with editor Ginetta E. B. Candelario and managing editor Leslie Marie Aguilar, we celebrated our new publishing partnership with Meridians with a reception at our booth on Saturday.

There were also three “Author Meets the Critics” sessions featuring DUP authors Sami Schalk, Robyn Spencer, and Macarena Gómez-Barris.

It was a pleasure visiting with authors and editors at this wonderful conference!

Lynn Comella and Adan Martinez

Lynn Comella, author of Vibrator Nation, with her former student Adan Martinez.

 

Missed NWSA this year? Couldn’t fit all the books and journals you wanted into your suitcase? Don’t worry! You can still take advantage of the conference discount. Just use coupon code NWSA18 for 30% off your dukeupress.edu order at checkout.

Generations

The most recent issue of Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, “Generations,” edited by Frances S. Hasso, is now available.

MEW_14_3_coverThis special issue examines biological, political, and social reproduction and change at multiple scales. Contributors illustrate how intimate and political stories overlap, exploring themes such as biological reproduction, sexual health and agency, and motherhood. Recognizing that our understanding of past and present depends on who, how, and what we remember, this issue asks us to consider how feminist scholars generate knowledge and what we treat as an archive, especially given our frequent interest in nonarchival questions and subjects.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction, made freely available.

Trans*historicities

The most recent issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, “Trans*historicities,” edited by Leah DeVun and Zeb Tortorici, is now available.

coverimageThis issue offers a theoretical and methodological imagining of what constitutes trans* before the advent of the terms that scholars generally look to for the formation of modern conceptions of gender, sex, and sexuality. What might we find if we look for trans* before trans*? While some historians have rejected the category of transgender to speak of experiences before the mid-twentieth century, others have laid claim to those living gender-non-conforming lives before our contemporary era. By using the concept of trans*historicity, this volume draws together trans* studies, historical inquiry, and queer temporality while also emphasizing the historical specificity and variability of gendered systems of embodiment in different time periods.

Essay topics include a queer analysis of medieval European saints, discussions of a nineteenth-century Russian religious sect, an exploration of a third gender in early modern Japanese art, a reclamation of Ojibwe and Plains Cree Two-Spirit language, and biopolitical genealogies and filmic representations of transsexuality. The issue also features a roundtable discussion on trans*historicities and an interview with the creators of the 2015 film Deseos. Critiquing both progressive teleologies and the idea of sex or gender as a timeless tradition, this issue articulates our own desires for trans history, trans*historicities, and queerly temporal forms of historical narration.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction, made freely available.

Engaging in Today’s Political Climate

As voters head to the polls for the November 6 midterm elections, we look back on past issues from two of our politically engaged journals, Tikkun and World Policy Journal, for advice on how to engage in today’s political climate.

Embrace and celebrate multiculturalism.

An increasingly diverse United States requires a multiethnic approach to governance that prioritizes social welfare, argues political science professor Terri E. Givens in “How the Left Can Right Itself” (World Policy Journal 34:1). “The focus must be on addressing inequality, strengthening unions, and developing immigration policies that include burden-sharing agreements and support for those caught in conflict areas,” writes Givens.

Uphold values with grace and vision.WPJ_34_1_cover

The editorial “Trump’s Evil Policies, Democrats Aligning with the Deep State, and the Left in Shaming and Blaming” (Tikkun 32:3) advocates using a forward-looking visionary approach to left-versus-right discourse instead of a reactionary approach that assumes “a posture of fighting off the bad instead of building the good.” This reactionary strategy, the editorial reads, “will do little to transform the dynamics at play and support the emergence of a just, compassionate, environmentally sensitive and love-supporting society that is badly needed.”

Consider all of the earth’s residents.

“We must push for nothing less than a transformation in the legal systems that govern humankind’s relationship with the earth,” writes Mari Margil in “The Standing of Trees: Why Nature Needs Legal Rights” (World Policy Journal 34:2). “Right now, a growing global movement is trying to shift both law and culture to recognize the legal rights of nature. . . . This is essential to get us away from systems that treat the natural world as if it exists solely for human exploitation,” writes Margil.

Transcend fear.

“We are at our best when we embody [a] message of love and resist fear. By contrast, governing by fear is deeply antithetical to our sacred call,” writes President of Pacific School of Religion Rev. Dr. David Vàsquez-Levy in “No Hate, No Fear” (Tikkun 32:3). “Through his barrage of executive orders, impacting thousands of immigrants and refugees, President Donald Trump has framed his leadership of the world’s most powerful nation by means of fear,” writes Vàsquez-Levy, calling upon us “as individuals and communities [to] show our creative strength, intellectual capacity, deep faith, and courage as we join angels and protestors proclaiming, ‘No hate, no fear! Refugees are welcome here!’”

“Stay outraged.”

World Policy Journal 34:1, “Stay Outraged: A Conversation with Masha Gessen”

In an interview with World Policy Journal, journalist Masha Gessen points out that, as moral authority degrades within the current administration, the way that society fights that degradation is by “maintaining a sense of outrage.” She urges us to recalibrate the moral compass by speaking out in the public sphere, pointing out abnormalities, extending beyond the liberal or conservative bubble, and aspiring to a glorious future. “Stay outraged,” Gessen writes, for by “protesting, by maintaining healthy public debates in the media and other public spaces,” we maintain a “sense of moral authority.”

Photography and Work

RHR_18_3_coverThe most recent issue of Radical History Review, “Photography and Work,” edited by Kevin Coleman, Daniel James, and Jayeeta Sharma, is now available.

What makes photographs different from other kinds of historical source material? What can photograph images do that other documents cannot? Can photographs help us to see how capitalism works? This special issue considers these questions as it examines the capacity of photography to capture labor and capital. Through the study of fine art photography, as well as state, corporate, family, trade union, ethnographic, photojournalistic, and environmental visual archives, the issue seeks to understand the ways that photography has been central to both the appropriation and exploitation of labor and to the artistic critique of these practices.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction, made freely available.

Latinx Lives in Hemispheric Context

ELN_56_2_coverThe most recent issue of English Language Notes, “Latinx Lives in Hemispheric Context,” edited by Maria A. Windell, is now available.

This special issue investigates the intersections among Latinx, Chicanx, ethnic, and hemispheric American Studies, mapping the history of Latinx and Latin American literary and cultural production as it has circulated through the United States and the Americas. The issue comprises original archival research on Latinx print culture, modernismo, and land grabs, as well as short position pieces on the relevance of “Latinx” both as a term and as a field category for historical scholarship, representational politics, and critical intervention. Taken as a whole, the issue interrogates how Latinx literary, cultural, and scholarly productions circulate across the Americas in the same ways as the lives and bodies of Latinx peoples have moved, migrated, or mobilized throughout history.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction, made freely available.

The Queer Commons

glq_24_4_coverThe most recent issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, “The Queer Commons,” edited by Gavin Butt and Nadja Millner-Larsen, is now available.

The conventional idea of the commons—a resource managed by the community that uses it—might appear anachronistic as global capitalism attempts to privatize and commodify social life. Against these trends, contemporary queer energies have been directed toward commons-forming initiatives from activist provision of social services to the maintenance of networks around queer art, protest, public sex, and bar cultures that sustain queer lives otherwise marginalized by heteronormative society and mainstream LGBTQ politics. This issue forges a connection between the common and the queer, asking how the category “queer” might open up a discourse that has emerged as one of the most important challenges to contemporary neoliberalization at both the theoretical and practical level.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction, made freely available.