1. VERSO'S BOOK OF DISSENT
since I've finished this text Iʼve kept it close at hand. as a reminder that justice arrives in the form of rebellion, as reference (and in deference) to the warriors who came before us, and as inviolable proof that language is our sharpest weapon and our deepest sol$ce. in the words of liu xiaobo, it is more dangerous to stop peopleʼs mouths than it is to dam a river.
2. A SEVENTH MAN (JOHN BERGER AND JEAN MOHR)
how does a book grow younger? the seventh man looks through various scopes at the economic demand of migrant workers in 1960s europe, yet why does this text continue to speak so resonantly? how has our fundamental structure of labour failed? that the development of one country actively seeks the underdevelopment of another? what does it mean to work? to sustain a social hierarchy? here, fifty years and unimaginable rates of development/devastation later, the same questions, with growing urgency, beg for our consideration.
3. COLLECTED POEMS (JOHN ASHBERY)
john berger's verses will always be springtime to me, the very character of green in his study of moments. the way he dichotomizes time and our place within it is a literary performance of magic, and in doing so, joy is borne from ink and paper.
4. ARTEMISIA (ANNA BANTI)
some books I love because they are beautiful, and some I almost hate because they are so beautiful they force me to confront my own limitations as a writer. anna banti has reinvented the craft. this is a sublime fiction that takes as its subject a glorious woman, and if you have ever had the fortune of seeing one of artemisia gentileschi’s paintings in real life you might just have some idea of exactly how graceful and worthy this book is.
5. CITY WITH A HIDDEN PAST (COMPILATION)
it has been a wonder to walk tokyo for hours on end, in some attempt to decipher the code it has woven deep within its construction. this compilation of essays has shed so much light on the various externalities and interiors that compose the ever-metamorphosing library that is this city, and gives compartment to what can be felt, what can be sensed, and what can be known.
6. HATRED OF DEMOCRACY (JACQUES RANCIÈRE)
democracy was meant to be the epitome of evolved societal existence, yet today we have seen it warped into a violent and unstable entity that propagates colonization and ignorance in the name of moral superiority. how do we fix it, and is it worth fixing?
7. TRES (ROBERT BOLAÑO)
poetry is a series of doors we walk though to find the world ever more euphoric, ever more complex, ever more elusive and strange and fathomless. luckily, poets have bolaño to prove it.
8. HU FENG'S PRISON YEARS (MEI ZHI)
regarding hu feng, the chinese literary critic who criticised the absence of free expression during china’s politicisation of literature, and as a result was swallowed by the communist prison system for 25 years. meticulous, visual, and strangely careful, mei zhi gives us not only a testament to one of the greatest chinese intellectuals of the 20th century, but also a devastating reveal to how “reform through labour” steadily debilitates an incredible mind.
9. BLOOD, TIN, STRAW (SHARON OLDS)
sharon olds is revered in poetry for her scrupulous awareness of her own female body; one of the only leading contemporary writers to become renowned doing so. the history of literature may be read as a testimony to how the female body and the female consciousness has been sequestered, ignored or openly denigrated. but now we have olds, who broke out writing viscerally about childbirth, motherhood, female orgasms, and all those other non-literary things women were meant to keep to themselves.