Out now: 'Clarks in Jamaica' (revised second edition)

Jamaica loves Clarks shoes and Clarks in Jamaica by Al Fingers celebrates that with its second revised edition:

Clarks in Jamaica is a colourful, in-depth study into Clarks’ celebrated status in Jamaica, where for decades they have ruled as the “champion shoes”. Starting with the origins of the Clarks brand in 1825, the book goes on to detail the arrival of the brand in the West indies over one hundred years ago, the adoption of the Desert Boot as the rude boy and Rasta shoe of choice in the 1960s, and the filtering of this popularity into reggae and dancehall song lyrics.

Featuring current and historic photographs, interviews and never-before-seen archive material, this classic style reference explores how footwear made by a Quaker firm in the quiet English village of Street, Somerset became the “baddest” shoes in Jamaica and an essential part of the island’s culture.

Clarks in Jamaica is out now, available at Gardners (UK) and SCB (US) for £39.99 and $59.99, respectively.

Photos of the Bookshelf Theater in the Kadokawa Culture Museum by Ryosuke Kosuge

Japanese photographer Ryosuke Kosuge captured the majesty of The Kadokawa Culture Museum’s Bookshelf Theater – a library with 8m tall bookshelves, containing over 50,000 titles. It’s like a film set or a modern, dizzying interpretation of the Library of Alexandria.

Related: The Instagram account capturing Japanese facades, the captivating neon photography of Liam Wong and the night photography of Junya Watanabe

'The Page 69 Test' tests a Marshall McLuhan addage on choosing books

According to Marshall McLuhan, if you turn to page 69 of any book, read it and like the page, you should buy the book. The Page 69 Test has been testing that theory for the past 14 years with thousands of books analysed. I might have to try this out the next time I’m in a bookshop (sometime in 2022 no doubt).

See also: The Page 99 Test, following a similar Ford Madox Ford saying—”open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.”

Happy birthday, Octavia Butler! Here's an exclusive excerpt from her forthcoming biography

Octavia Butler was a visionary science fiction writer who predicted the rise of an American politician who would rise to power with the slogan “Make America Great Again” in her 1998 novel Parable of the Talents. She would have turned 73 today, June 22, had she not died suddenly in 2006 of a stroke. But the Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author who explored themes of gender fluidity, climate change, authoritarianism, and the rise of Big Pharma is perhaps more widely read now than ever, and that phenomenon is destined to grow with the publication Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler by Ibi Zoboi, due out in January of 2022.

(via Yahoo! News)

Zakiya Dalila Harris on her debut novel, 'The Other Black Girl'

Novelist Zakiya Dalila Harris spoke to Orange County Register about her new book ‘The Other Black Girl‘, racial diversity within fiction, and influences on her work such as James Baldwin and Jordan Peele:

Code-switching maybe matters less now than it would have two years ago because of George Floyd. On positive days, I think these conversations are allowing Black people to speak up more. On negative days, I think that’s only because it’s in vogue for now and you can only speak up so much. 

We know why diversity is important in a lot of ways, but I wanted my book to look at how it influences each person on an individual level.

Q. Were you worried about pulling the rug out from under readers or was that the goal?

It’s my first book, so I’m not saying it’s perfect. But I love twist endings and “The Twilight Zone,” and “Get Out” was definitely an inspiration. I definitely knew where it was going when I started writing. I love the end of “Night of the Living Dead,” which is so realistic about Black experience. It’s still America, so stuff is going to happen to you if you’re Black. 

People asked, “Are you sure about this ending?” Yeah, I think it’s pretty necessary. Any other ending wouldn’t be as impactful. I really want people to talk about what happens to Nella and what could her [White] co-workers have done if they’d really been listening. 

When I was a kid, I used to love the Goosebumps series, and they had a choose your own adventure and I loved that there were multiple possible endings; I left some things open with this book so readers can think about it. I didn’t want to tie the ending in a neat bow. 

A book of Haring-isms

Keith Haring remains one of the most important and celebrated artists of his generation and beyond. Through his signature bold graphic line drawings of figures and forms dancing and grooving, Haring’s paintings, large-scale public murals, chalk drawings, and singular graffiti style defined an era and brought awareness to social issues ranging from gay rights and AIDS to drug abuse prevention and a woman’s right to choose. Haring-isms is a collection of essential quotations from this creative thinker and legendary artist.

Buy it on Bookshop (affiliate link)

The Green Experience

Green is the colour of Kermit the Frog, Mike Wazowski, and two-thirds of Nigeria’s national flag. It’s associated with nature, fertility, tranquillity, money, good luck, health, movement, and ecology. It can also signify illness and envy. Grass is green, the Chicago River is green once a year for St. Patrick’s Day, many political parties are green. Great gardeners have green fingers, inexperienced ones might be greenhorns, and jealous ones might be green-eyed monsters.

Green is my second favourite colour behind red (sorry, blue, you’re in 3rd place now!) thanks to Sporting CP. Green is also a traditional colour in Islam, associated with paradise in the Quran.

A passage from the Quran describes paradise as a place where people “will wear green garments of fine silk.” One hadith, or teaching, says, “When Allah’s Apostle died, he was covered with a Hibra Burd,” which is a green square garment. As a result, you’ll see green used to color the binding of Qurans, the domes of mosques, and, yes, campaign materials.

via Slate

J. Milton Hayes’s “Yellow God” had a green eye (likely an emerald), Andrew Marvell’s “The Garden” said “No white nor red was ever seen / So am’rous as this lovely green.”, and D. H. Lawrence said the dawn was “apple-green”. Aliens are often green, little, and men for some reason.

The green room is where performers wait before they go on stage, there are at least 250 films in Letterboxd with “green” in the title including Green Book, Green Lantern, The Green Hornet, The Green Mile, and 17 films simply called Green.

Green and gold go together perfectly in a room and green Victorian tiles adorn many London Underground corridors (but not Green Park’s for some reason).

Judy Horacek and Mem Fox asked “Where Is The Green Sheep?“, Dr. Seuss wrote about Green Eggs and Ham, and Hemingway talked about the Green Hills of Africa (specifically East Africa). Kermit sang it ain’t easy being green, Tom Jones sang about the green green grass of home and Beyoncé gave us the green light (as did John Legend).

In art, you have Karel Appel’s The Green Cat, Lilian Thomas Burwell’s Greening, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Queen Green, and Jean Gabriel Domergue’s Green Park. There have been 3 green colours chosen as Pantone’s Colour of the Year between 2000 and 2021 (the most recent was emerald in 2014).

There’s a lot of love about green.

Simon Doonan's 'Keith Haring' biography

In case you missed it, Simon Doonan wrote a biography on Keith Haring which came out in February. It’s part of a series of pocket-sized biographies about great artists called Lives of the Artists and examines Haring’s inspiring life and work during the 1980s:

Revolutionary and renegade, Keith Haring was an artist for the people, creating an instantly recognisable repertoire of symbols – barking dogs, space-ships, crawling babies, clambering faceless people – which became synonymous with the volatile culture of 1980s. Like a careening, preening pinball, Keith Haring playfully slammed into all aspects of this decade – hip-hop, new-wave, graffiti, funk, art, style, gay culture – and brought them together.

Grab a copy of the book on Bookshop and let me know what you think in the comments.

Aimé Césaire and his Discourse on Colonialism

Tim Keane wrote about Black Caribbean poet Aimé Césaire who disseminated the brutality of colonialism in his work:

Since Césaire’s death in 2008 at age 94, as democracies devolve into autocracies and wealthy nations sidestep poorer ones on our endangered planet, Discourse on Colonialism remains prescient about the barbarity that informs civilization. In literary terms, its enduring relevance tends to overshadow Césaire’s standing as the most influential Modernist poet in Caribbean literature, an imaginative writer who molded the French language to make a personal poetry characterized by hypnotic physicality, ritualized anguish, and metaphorical exorcisms.

About Aimé Césaire

Césaire was born in Basse-Pointe, Martinique, in 1913. After moving to the capital, Fort-de-France, to attend the only secondary school on the island, he moved to Paris to attend the Lycée Louis-le-Grand on a scholarship. There, he passed the entrance exam for the École Normale Supérieure, co-created a literary review called L’Étudiant noir (The Black Student) and helped to start the Négritude movement.

Reading list

(contains Bookshop affiliate links)

'Brutalist Paris' to explore post-war Brutalist architecture in the French capital

from the curved concrete balconies of ‘les choux de créteil’ to oscar niemeyer’s ‘bourse du travail’, ‘brutalist paris’ documents the movement’s most significant examples in and around the french capital. back in 2017, blue crow media commissioned robin wilson and nigel green of photolanguage to research, write and shoot photography for the brutalist paris map. since the map’s publication, through their research, writing and photography, photolanguage have continued to draw attention to brutalist architecture across the city and its suburbs.

See also: Souvenir d’un Futur and the forgotten brutalist estates of Paris

(via designboom)

Roy Mehta's 'Revival' explores Brent's multiculturalism between 1989–93

Revival book cover

Roy Mehta is a London-based photographer and in his latest publication, Revival: London 1989-1993, he reconnected with his roots in Brent, north-west London. The book is a collection of Roy’s photos taken in a 4-year period from the tail-end of the 80s to the early 90s.

During this time, in 1989, Roy was living in Farnham, but he knew the area of Brent like the back of his hand – he just hadn’t been there for a while. So he packed up his camera and started to wander the roads of his old hometown, taking pictures along the way and observing the streets that he once used to roam as a child. “I gradually got to know the people and began to be accepted into churches, pubs, homes, dancehalls and other places in the community,” Roy tells It’s Nice That. “This was a long time before digital photography and social media, so photography was a different kind of practice; people related to the camera in a different way.”

Quote from It’s Nice That

Revival: London 1989-1993 is available from Hoxton Mini Press and on Amazon. There will also be an exhibition of the work in March 2022 (you can check some of the photos from there too).

A Quick Ting On: a non-fiction series focused on Black British culture

Jacaranda Books is set to release A Quick Ting On, their first non-fiction series dedicated to Black British culture. The series has been curated by Magdalene Abraha and features the likes of Chanté Joseph (!!!), Tobi Kyeremateng (!!!), and Sophia Tassew (!!!)

Here are the eight books and their release dates:

  • A Quick Ting On: Afrobeats by Christian Adofo (7th October 2021)
  • A Quick Ting On: Plantain by Rui Da Silva (22nd October 2021)
  • A Quick Ting On: Black British Power Movement by Chanté Joseph (28th October 2021)
  • A Quick Ting On: The Black Girl Afro by Zainab Kway-Swanzy (4th November 2021)
  • A Quick Ting On: Black British Businesses by Tskenya-Sarah Frazer (12th November 2021)
  • A Quick Ting On: Theatre Sh*t by Tobi Kyeremateng (19th November 2021)
  • A Quick Ting On: Grime by Franklyn Addo (2022)
  • A Quick Ting On: Bamboo Earrings by Sophia Tassew (2022)

This is exactly what we need and I’m so excited for this series and everyone involved. I’ll update with links as and when they come up.

Loose Ends: a literary supercut of 137 last lines from sci-fi books by Tom Comitta

I’ve featured Tom Comitta on Cultrface before with his airport novella and his tongue-in-cheek rework of Martin Scorsese’s Marvel essay. Back in September last year, he wrote a literary supercut called Loose Ends that pieced together the last lines from 137 sci-fi and fantasy books.

In true Comitta style, he makes sense out of fragments of media that were never intended to be seen in that way. I’d love to see this in a published book with different fonts for each line.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

Miles grinned sleepily, puddled down in his uniform. “Welcome to the beginning,” he said quietly. “We have a long way to go.”

“But I can’t speak Swedish,” I said.

“You’ll learn,” he said. “You’ll learn, you’ll learn.”

He threw on some more brush and watched the dark smoke spiral up under the sun, a warm and now comforting sun. “Let’s sail till we come to the edge.”

“Not until we can deliver our secret to our respective worlds. And acquire an intact ship.”

“Let’s go talk to Folimum and see what he says.” He turned back to his Master. He was ready to go.

“I think that could be arranged,” I said. I turned away from the bridge and Diane offered me her arm. I hesitated a moment, then took her arm.

Miles smiled. “Let the blind man show the way.”

He did.

You can read the full thing on Wired and there’s also an annotated version with the names of each book for each line.

(Featured image: original image via Flickr)

5 brilliant and possibly obscure Black authors

Tina Charisma compiled a list of 5 brilliant Black authors you need to know about but might not for Harper’s Bazaar.

The contributions of Black authors cannot be underestimated, from their creation of spaces, to their critical take on socio-political issues, culture and science. Black writers have helped carve out trails of the Black experience historically, while also changing mindsets and perceptions.

Naturally, the list didn’t feature the usual suspects—James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou—but there was one name I recognised: Octavia Butler. She was best known for her work in science fiction, putting Black characters and the forefront of a genre known for its racism towards humans of colour and aliens (acting as avatars for people of colour).

Here are 5 links* for some the books referenced in the list:

  1. Corregidora (1975)
  2. So Long A Letter (1979)
  3. Kindred (1979)
  4. Death and the King’s Horseman (1973)
  5. The Joys of Motherhood (1979)

* – These are Bookshop affiliate links where a small portion (10%) of the sale goes to me and the rest go to independent bookstores.