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The Forty Year War in Afghanistan by Tariq Ali

I found this book to be incredibly engaging and helpful in decentering western perspectives on a conflict into which we have inserted ourselves with disastrous, violent results. Ali’s collection of essays spanning — you guessed it, forty years — are prescient in their warnings to global powers.

Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker

This book was at times difficult to read, but I could not put it down. Thinking about this question actually makes me want to pick it up again! Walker explores the world of a woman caught between her two identities, one attached to the United States, the other to Walker’s fictional African country, Olinka. Using a postcolonial lens, Walker tells the story of her protagonist as she considers, and then undergoes, a procedure traditional in her homeland. This novel is a mediation on whether the mind and the body can coexist fractured across cultures and traditions.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This novel has gutted me. Yanagihara gently drags her audience through glass shards for over 800 pages. I have never read a book more quickly in my life. The writing is excellent, the plot is a stab in the gut, and the characters are pure gold throughout, despite — or perhaps especially because of — their very human flaws. 

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