Doris Lessing Wins the Nobel Prize

British writer Doris Lessing will be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Her breakthrough was the 1962 “Golden Notebook,” the Swedish Academy said.

“The burgeoning feminist movement saw it as a pioneering work and it belongs to the handful of books that inform the 20th century view of the male-female relationship,” the academy said in its citation announcing the prize.

Other important novels of Lessing’s include “The Summer Before Dark” in 1973 and “The Fifth Child” in 1988.

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Review – Woman on the Other Shore

My review of Mitsuyo Kakuta’s Woman on the Other Shore is up over at PopMatters.

When timid housewife Sayoko lands a job with Platinum Planet, a travel-housekeeping company run by Aoi, the two women forge an unlikely friendship. Seeing Aoi’s example, Sayoko learns to assert herself and the unmarried Aoi gains the kind of deeply-trusted friend in Sayoko she hasn’t had since high school.

That’s pretty much the plot to Mitsuyo Kakuta’s 2005 Naoki Prize-winning novel Woman on the Other Shore. You could be forgiven for thinking that it sounds as dull and annoying as one of those melodramatic, “empowering” women-centered movies on the Lifetime channel.

It’s not.

Review – The Great Arab Conquests

My review of Hugh Kennedy’s The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In is up over at PopMatters.

In a little over 100 years after the death of the prophet Muhammad in 632, Arab Muslims controlled an empire that reached out from Medina and Mecca as far west to what is now Morocco and as far east to what is now Afghanistan. They brought Arabic and the new Muslim religion to diverse places where there were previously no Arab-speakers. Just how and why that happened is the subject of Hugh Kennedy’s ambitious and highly annotated The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In.