What We Are Reading Today: Black Land

Updated 05 September 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Black Land

Author: Nadia Nurhussein

As the only African nation, with the exception of Liberia, to remain independent during the colonization of the continent, Ethiopia has long held significance for and captivated the imaginations of African Americans. In Black Land, Nadia Nurhussein delves into 19th- and 20th-century African American artistic and journalistic depictions of Ethiopia, illuminating the increasing tensions and ironies behind cultural celebrations of an African country asserting itself as an imperial power, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. Nurhussein navigates texts by Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Pauline Hopkins, Harry Dean, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, George Schuyler, and others, alongside images and performances that show the intersection of African America with Ethiopia during historic political shifts. From a description of a notorious 1920 Star Order of Ethiopia flag-burning demonstration in Chicago to a discussion of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie as Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 1935, Nurhussein illuminates the growing complications that modern Ethiopia posed for American writers and activists.

What We Are Reading Today: The Seine: The River That Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

Updated 09 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Seine: The River That Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

The Seine: The River That Made Paris is a wonderful book from Elaine Sciolino that takes readers on a journey along the Seine river, through France’s fascinating history and a thousand little anecdotes that fill it with life. 

The book “tells the story of the Seine’s origin, its little known source in Burgundy, and the goddess that gave the river its name,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

It also “tells the stories of dozens of fascinating characters that have spent their lives on, around and along the river,” the review added.

It said “Sciolino met with people living on their boats, fishermen, the river police, the firefighters who put out the fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral using water from the Seine, and many more.” 

The characters “come to live with her skillful writing and share their stories of how the Seine has shaped their lives,” said the review.

Sciolino is a writer and former Paris Bureau Chief for The New York Times, based in France since 2002. 

She contributes to The New York Times’ Food, Culture, Styles and Sunday Review sections.