Reading Lists on Serious Topics From the Back Pages of the Newspaper


Our view of the world is so often sculpted by front page and home page, so here is a look at some long-ongoing crises of self-determination that only occasionally surface in the news:

First, Nigeria and Big Oil. I’m not condoning militarism, terrorism, or sabotage, and neither are most Nigerian nationals, even though there’s a lot of oil on that slippery slope to human rights violations. Take a moment to remember Ken Saro-Wiwa as oil prices rise…

Relevant links:

Niger Delta militants vow more attacks

Oil price fears following rebel attacks on Shell

A Path to Peace.

Shell, Nigeria, Militant Attacks, and the Escalating Price of Oil

Further reading:
Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil, by Nicholas Shaxson
A Month and a Day: A Detention Diary, by Ken Saro-Wiwa
In the Shadow of a Saint: A Son’s Journey to Understand His Father, by Ken Wiwa

Second, Sri Lanka and the civil war. The eyes of the world were focused on this island nation a few weeks ago. Now they seem to have glazed over. One reason we’re getting so little news from there, though, is that journalists inside are being killed and those from outside are not being allowed in.

Relevant links:

Colombo Blacklists Outside Observers
Why are the Vanni civilians still being held hostage?

Further reading:
Love Marriage, V. V. Ganeshananthan
Anil’s Ghost, Michael Ondaatje
Funny Boy, Shyam Selvadurai

Third, nationless: Rom, Roma, Romani, Gypsies, yet another people without a homeland. Their persecution has become one of their unifying characteristics. Though often nomadic, many settle and thus become eligible for displacement. This is an update on a smallish group from a war that quickly became old.

Relevant links:

Living in Filth for 10 Years

Further reading:
Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey, by Isabel Fonseca

Padma Viswanathan's most recent novel is The Ever After of Ashwin Rao. More at her website: WWW.PADMAVISWANATHAN.COM More from this author →