By Sara Nović, author of Girl at War: A Novel (Random House Trade Paperbacks, March 2016)
Recently my first novel became an audiobook to which I cannot listen. This is not a complaint, exactly; to write a book someone wants to publish in any format is a writer’s dream. But to hold some disc that contains a thing I made, transformed into a thing I can no longer understand, is a quandary few writers experience. To be a Deaf writer is to make a certain kind of shortlist.
Growing up with a progressive hearing loss, I was educated in spoken English alongside my hearing peers; when that became too difficult I learned American Sign Language (ASL) and had interpreters in class. Still, the linguistic modality in which I am most fluent is written English, because in it I have the most access and the most control. When I’m writing I need not be translated for a hearing audience. When I’m reading a book sounds and words are clear; paper never covers its mouth or turns its head. Continue reading
By Fred Pearce, author of The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature’s Salvation (Beacon Press, April 2015)
Alien species are taking over nature. Rogue rats, predatory jellyfish, suffocating super-weeds, snakehead fish wriggling across the land–all are headed for an ecosystem near you. These biological adventurers are travelling the world in ever greater numbers, hitchhiking in our hand luggage, hidden in cargo holds and stuck to the bottom of ships. Our modern, human-dominated world of globalized trade is giving footloose species many more chances to cruise the planet and set up home in distant lands. Some run riot, massacring local species, trashing their new habitats and spreading diseases. Continue reading
By Kaitlin Bell Barnett, author of Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up (Beacon Press, September 2014)
As the number of young people treated with psychiatric medications has risen sharply over the past couple of decades, the issue of treating kids has become a hot-button issue.
A growing chorus of critics point fingers at doctors who are allegedly too quick to pathologize ordinary childhood struggles as mental illness, and at parents allegedly too quick to medicate their children—all in the absence of scientific evidence about the drugs’ long-term effects. Mental health advocacy groups counter with anti-stigma campaigns urging people to seek help, and big pharma continues to aggressively push its drugs for more and more pediatric indications. Continue reading
By Yiyun Li, author of Kinder Than Solitude: A Novel (Random House, February 2014).
When I left China in the mid 1990s, it was still a country largely unknown to the West. Americans sometimes asked me if I had ever eaten chocolate before, or if my parents had arranged a marriage for me. But over the past twenty years, with rapid changes in technology, the world seems to have become a smaller place. A photographer in Madrid told me that he had a language partner, a high school student in Wisconsin, and he practiced English on Skype with the student, and the student practiced Spanish with him. A woman I met in London makes a living by teaching English long-distance to Chinese business people. At a playground the other day, a man was using FaceTime with his family in Europe: he showed his children on swings, and his brother and sister-in-law showed an album of their traveling in Senegal, all on their iPhone screens. Continue reading
Beyond the usual curriculum of science and math courses for pre-med students, would a few required courses in the humanities turn out doctors who are more in tune with their patients’ needs? In “Humanities for Science Majors,” published in the September 16th issue of Publishers Weekly, Dr. Danielle Ofri writes, “When I think about the ongoing debate about the value of humanities in higher education, I’m reminded that it’s not (just) about the dwindling number of English majors. It’s about the totality of students who enter the university gates and then branch out into society.” Ofri, author of What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine (Beacon), says that the “unexpected opportunity to steep in the humanities offered me ways to think and write about medicine that I doubt would have been accessible to me otherwise.” Continue reading