This week we feature the current favorites and obsessions of Sonia Faleiro. She is the author of two books, including Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars, The Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year in 2011 and one of NPR’s Five Best Travel Memoirs of 2012. She is a co-founder of the international journalists cooperative, Deca. Her writing has most recently appeared in The New York Times and Granta.
It’s been an extraordinary month for those of us in Deca, a co-operative of journalists who got together to tell the necessary stories of our times. We published our first digital book And the City Swallowed Them by Mara Hvistendahl and thrillingly, it’s a bestseller on two continents. We got on Kickstarter to raise money to cover our $15,000 start up costs and reached our goal in three days. But this is just the beginning. We have several stories on hand — an insider’s account of the refugee crisis on a small Mediterranean island, the mystery behind a $6 billion energy boondoggle above the Arctic Circle — but we need money to publish them, which is why we’re still on Kickstarter. What we’re doing is very challenging, but it’s inspiring to all of us. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Deca.
I love the website of award-winning translator Arunava Sinha, which he regularly updates with his translations of Bengali fiction and poetry. (Pro tip: sign up for his newsletter.) Were it not for his dedication and passion, readers like me would never have access to the writing of Buddhadeva Bose, Sankar, Sunil Gangopadhyay, among so many others whose work has either not been translated into English, or isn’t widely available in translation. Two of my favorite stories from Arunava’s website are Heeng Kochuri by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay and From the Magic Moonlight Flower by Satyajit Ray. “I have seen Postmen Wandering in the Autumnal Forest” by Shakti Chattopadhyay is just glorious poetry. Whenever I need inspiration, I head over to his website. I always leave refreshed.
— Arunava Sinha (@arunava) June 12, 2014
3. National Center for Civil and Human Rights
My friend Doug Shipman completed an extraordinary project this month. Doug is the CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Georgia, which just opened its doors to the public. The $80 million Centre covers 42,000 square feet and devotes sections to the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King’s personal papers, as well as global human rights issues. I have more than a friendly curiosity in the library. Last year I bought a personalized wall tile for a family member with a keen interest in the history of the civil rights movement. The tile will be mounted on display in the lobby of the Center, and I’m looking forward to going to Atlanta and seeing it in person.
Although I don’t live in New York, I listen to WNYC because of Micropolis, a radio series that examines race, religion, and other issues that impact life in the city. Creator and reporter Arun Venugopal is remarkably deft at getting to the center of these often-sensitive matters. He’s deeply knowledgeable, but also very funny. Thanks to him some of the rather long walks mandated by the demands of my Jack Russell Terrier have been very enjoyable indeed. I was particularly impressed with Venugopal’s handling of the subject of South Asian fascination with skin lighteners (The Dark Side of Fair Skin) and his conversation with the always enjoyable Amber Ruffin, a writer at Late Night with Seth Meyers, on the role of humor in redefining stereotypes (Funny or Racist).