Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Book by Political Journalist Gary Younge Are We

Who Are We—And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?
by Gary Younge
June 2011
Nation Books
ISBN: 1568586604

"We are more alike than we are unalike. But the way we are unalike matters," writes Gary Younge in his riveting new book, Who Are We? "To be male in Saudi Arabia, Jewish in Israel or white in Europe confers certain powers and privileges that those with other identities do not have. In other words identity can represent a material fact in itself." Identity shapes us, unites and divides us; in this new century, it is at the heart of most of the pressing issues of the day. In Europe the debate over immigration, national identity and the right to worship has resulted in political upheaval and riots (in France Roma are being deported en masse; in Italy Silvio Berlusconi has called undocumented workers an "army of evil"). The President of the United States faces scrutiny for a childhood spent abroad, for his unusual name and the color of his skin, experiences and attributes that result in a mixed identity many—birthers, Tea Party protesters and "dittoheads" to name a few—fear and decry as a means of rallying their base.

In this illuminating and quirky new book, prize-winning journalist Gary Younge demonstrates that how we define ourselves deeply matters: identity often determines whom we elect; it informs the choices we make on how to keep safe; and often figures prominently in the decision to go to war.

Moving between fascinating memoir and searing analysis, Younge makes surprising and enlightening connections. From beauty contests in Ireland, to the personal views of Tiger Woods, from the author's own student days in Paris where he faced hardcore racism, to the truth behind the Danish cartoons controversy, Younge connects how political and social realities are determined by identity. Who Are We? unpacks how personal identity is not only core to the perspective of the powerless but also absolutely central to the way the powerful think.

From one of our liveliest and most original thinkers comes a fascinating portrait of the way our society really works.

"Gary Younge's Who Are We?—And Why Should It Matter?...[is] an indispensable guide to "identity" in politics, and a terrific read!"
—Margaret Atwood

"Penetrating and provocative...Younge weaves his own story...with powerful reportage from across the globe that reveals the changing nature of identity."
—The Guardian
"Absorbing reflections on the complexities and contradictions of identity...Younge's book...makes the abstract concrete, showing us rather than just telling us how identity matters in the lives of people around the world."
—Financial Times

"[A] penetrating investigation into the multiple paradoxes of identity in an increasingly mobile world."
—Metro [UK]

"With brilliant clarity, Gary Younge carefully guides us through a political minefield...A critical writer at a critical time."
—Andrea Leavy

Gary Younge is a columnist for the Guardian and The Nation. His books include Stranger in a Strange Land and No Place Like Home, which was short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. He lives in New York City.