Thursday, April 8, 2010

Between the links

Before I recommence my current round of ruminating about books and revolution, here are some worthwhile links.

The brilliant Kenyan author Ngugi Wa Thiong'o will be in NYC for a rare appearance next Thursday. The event is apparently a benefit for Revolution Books, the retail outlet of the Revolutionary Communist Party. I am, to say the least, not a fan of the RCP. But neither am I a bitter, rigid sectarian, which is what I'd have to be to pass up this chance to see and hear the great Ngugi. You can bet I'll be there. With my copy of Wizard of the Crow in hopes of getting Comrade Ngugi to sign it. Can't wait!

If you're in Austin on Monday, you might want to swing by the Ransom Center where they'll be screening the documentary Peter Matthiessen: No Boundaries. This caught my eye because Matthiessen is of course the author of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, a great work in solidarity with the struggles of the Indigenous nations of North America and in particular with political prisoner Leonard Peltier, and also because I'm currently reading his novel Shadow Country. Most likely I'll blog about the novel once I've finished. At this point, with about 300 pages to go, all I can think to call this book is an astonishment.

From astonishment to disappointment: Margaret Atwood has accepted a literary prize from the apartheid state of Israel and seems set on going there to receive it. She thus spurns international appeals that she honor the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement. Here is a letter to her from Palestine.

The murderers of Massey Energy must pay for their crimes, which are only the latest in a centuries-long rampage of profit-taking at the cost of workers' lives. I used to write a weekly column called "On the Picket Line" about strikes, workers and the labor movement for Workers World newspaper. Through most of the 1980s and 90s, I reported on and took part in solidarity for as many worker actions as I could. In the course of this work I learned a lot about the hard life and awful suffering that the working class of coal country endures. And about what tough, fighting people they are. This latest atrocity at the Upper Big Branch mine has set me to thinking about the 1989 Pittston coal strike and the wonderful sisters and brothers of that struggle who I got to meet. Especially the sisters, Catherine Tompa and the others who formed themselves into a group called the Daughters of Mother Jones and were key leaders in the fight. I just googled Catherine and found that she died a few years back. If she were alive, I know she'd be on the front lines once again demanding justice this time around.

Finally, this from Cuba. The latest tactic in imperialism's never-ending war against the Cuban revolution came with the recent propaganda attack from the European Union. Now, in a letter from Kenia Serrano Puig, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, fondly known as ICAP to all who've traveled there, comes an appeal to speak out in defense of the island nation and its right to self-determination. "We are asking our friends, the same ones who have demonstrated to us their irreducible solidarity for so many years in the most difficult of circumstances," to sign a statement of solidarity by artists and intellectuals. Initial signers include Danny Glover, Rafael Cancel Miranda and many others. For more information, to read the statement and, I hope, to sign it yourself as I just did, go here.