Search results for ‘eric hamovitch’

The Wild West Bank

Eric Hamovitch attended an interview with Assaf Gavron on Saturday, part of the Blue Metropolis festival.  When Assaf Gavron set out to write a novel focusing on a not-so-fictional hilltop settlement established by religious zealots in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, he first had to do a little research to get a clearer idea of how the people he wanted to write about actually think and act. This meant spending time among them, and winning their…

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He Who Must (Not) Be Named

Foreign policy tends to get short shrift at key moments — like during election campaigns — in spite of having a profound effect on us in ways we are not even aware. I looked forward to this book by Montreal writer and political activist Yves Engler, who has earned a reputation as an intrepid researcher. The Ugly Canadian could not have come at a better time. Stephen Harper must be taken to task for tarnishing Canada’s international r…

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How did the US get where it is today?

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, by George Packer Where is the United States headed? At best, it is trapped in stagnation, in the view of both George Packer and Niall Ferguson, though they offer contrasting explanations and hugely different approaches to the subject. Montrealer Donald Cuccioletta offers another set of views on how things got to where they are. George Packer is a New Yorker staff writer perhaps best known for h…

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Homage to Nicaragua

Eric Hamovitch attended a round-table discussion held at Librairie Las Americas on Saturday as part of the Blue Metropolis festival. For fans and followers of socialist revolutions in Latin America, the triumph of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in July 1979 came as a magnificent surprise. That Nicaragua should have a revolutionary government ahead of Colombia, with its longer-running conflict, or El Salvador, where events had taken on…

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Allah’s Girl Friday

Irshad Manji thrives on controversy. Her early career included hosting a Toronto-based TV show exploring gay and lesbian issues. She later turned her attention to the Muslim faith in which was raised. Her 2004 book, The Trouble with Islam Today, was translated into many languages and catapulted her to international fame. Her most recent opus, Allah, Liberty & Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom, is in many ways a sequel to her e…

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Michael the Menace

The world needs more Michael Moore. He’s a shit disturber. Here Comes Trouble opens with the almost murderous reaction to his denunciation of the Iraq war while accepting an Oscar at the 2003 Academy Awards. This act took place in a climate of supine acquiescence by most of the US political establishment to a war launched four days earlier under blatantly false pretences. For a brief time, Moore was effectively leader of the opposition. He spent…

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A Jerusalem childhood

Bells of Memory: A Jerusalem Childhood,  May 3rd Issa Boullata presents a loving portrait of his childhood in the Old City of Jerusalem during the 1930s and 1940s, during the latter days of the British mandate in Palestine. Now in his mid-eighties, this retired McGill professor of Arabic literature calls upon powerful stores of memory to provide details of the family home, his school days, family feasts and neighbourhood commercial and religious…

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Sergio Ramírez and the Writer’s Life in Central America

Among the delights of the Blue Met festival this year was the sight of a former vice-president of a Latin American republic wandering almost incognito among the public. Nicaraguan novelist Sergio Ramírez, whose literary career spans half a century, was in town to receive the festival’s first award for Spanish-language literature, in recognition of his recent novel La fugitiva (not yet available in English). For a time he was better known for his…

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Debunking Myths

A century ago, my grandparents left their East European homelands to settle in Montreal. Like the many thousands of other Jewish immigrants arriving at that time, they faced not only the severe economic and cultural challenges common to most immigrants but also deep suspicion and abiding mistrust linked to their non-British and non-French origins. Jews, it was muttered darkly, were an alien race with a propensity for the teachings of Bolshevism…

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NAFTA’s cultural legacy

NAFTA: A Cultural History, May 3, 2014 The North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 was supposed to bring Canada closer to its two nearest southern neighbours, but look where we are now: Stephen Harper, already on cool terms with Barack Obama, took the trouble to insult the U.S. president in New York by calling pipeline approval a “no-brainer.” Meanwhile, the Mexican president cancelled a planned visit to Ottawa following repeated snubs from…

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Drifting away from Buenos Aires

Brooklyn, Buenos Aires panel, at the Blue Metropolis Festival, May 3rd The late Mordecai Richler’s spicy rants on Quebec politics may have been flavoured inadvertently by his apparent inability to learn more than a smattering of French, Quebec’s majority language. He never lost sight, however, of the importance to a novelist of having familiar places and situations from which to draw inspiration. Though he might well have been more comfortable l…

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Cold Hard Kevin

Kevin O’Leary has often been called an asshole, or so he likes to brag. As the tough-guy venture capitalist on CBC Television’s Dragons’ Den (and a similar show on ABC in the U.S.), where proposals from incipient entrepreneurs are diagnosed and often demolished, he is bound to draw a few barbs. You might think he would want readers to see him in a more sympathetic light, but this is not a safe assumption. The full title of his book is Cold Hard…

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The Real Haiti

Fred Voodoo is not a real person. He has never existed. This made-up name is the shorthand used informally by some foreign correspondents to refer to the man (or woman) in the street in Haiti, often in a condescending tone. Amy Wilentz is a real person. She is an American journalist who has done more than most to penetrate the misconception distorting how we view this most baffling and mysterious of Western Hemisphere countries. During her many…

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Haitian literature highlighted

Haiti was in the spotlight this year at the 36th annual Salon du livre de Montréal. For the first time in its history, the six-day fair featured a country rather than an author as its featured guest. Haiti was by no means front and centre (for obvious reasons, publishers and authors from Quebec and France dominated the surroundings at Place Bonaventure), but visitors had the opportunity to see (and buy) a broader than usual range of works by Hai…

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Almost Lost

Incredible as it may seem today, Yiddish was once the third most widely spoken language in Montreal, after French and English. For several decades in the first half of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of Central and Eastern European Jews formed the city’s largest immigrant group. As immigration patterns changed in the post-war years, Italian became the city’s third language, succeeded more recently by Spanish and Arabic. But for nearly t…

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