Chinonso Solomon Olisa does not narrate his own story in an Orchestra of Minorities, Chigozie Obioma’s Odyssean second novel. The trials, tribulations, and misfortunes of the impoverished poultry farmer seep through the screen of his chi, the guardian spirit of Nigerian Igbo cosmology.
In childhood nightmares, monsters pop out of closets. Zachary Taylor hides in one to get away from the gunman, his first-grade teacher’s hot coffee breath stifling the air. “We kept hearing the POP sounds outside
“If you look, you will die.” This is the opening salvo Malorie (a bristling, fierce and stone-faced Sandra Bullock) barks to the two doe-eyed children, called “girl” and “boy,” huddled before her in the crumbling embrace of an abandoned house.
MOST ENCOUNTERS with insects involve the chemicals invented to repel them from our bodies and our homes. With termites, our instinctive repulsion prevents most of us from ever examining the nuances of their behaviour; instead, they squat in the subterranean pits of both reality and imagination as undistinguished globs, wholeheartedly deserving extermination.
Petroleum, Montana – a town whose star athlete suffocated in its iconic grain elevator 20 years before – now struggles to keep a facade of occupancy; the tin-foiled windows of the houses, wind-battered and snow-sunken, hide both humans and their ghosts. Mary Crampton, well-acquainted with death as the embalmer for her father’s funeral business, finds that most often she cannot speak to her neighbours until that moment their final stillness shoves its way into her basement.
Suzette and Alex Jenson live in an upscale Pittsburgh suburb, she a devoted stay-at-home mom and he the growing star of an environmentally conscious architectural development firm. Their lives now orbit around the small ambivalent moon of their adorable, mysteriously troubled seven-year-old daughter, Hanna, a selective mute.
Acts 1:18 recounts Judas’ death as follows: he bought a field, and “there he fell headlong, his body burst open, and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, the Field of Blood.” From the ground contaminated with Abel’s murdered blood to the perils and promises of blood transfusion and today’s fascination with personalized blood tests, the liquid that suffuses us continues to dredge an ever-deepening river in our collective imaginations.
Sunil Yapa situates his debut novel, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, over the course of one calamitous afternoon, that of the November 30, 1999, protests against the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle.
The podcast Trouble in the Flesh, produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, interviews women in the fields of religious studies, history and politics for their insights on how female bodies have been used and abused by Christian thought.
Many families in developing nations purchased formula, believing it surpassed breast milk in quality, but could only afford the expense by diluting it, which had the opposite effect: many babies died from malnutrition, diarrhea and pneumonia due to secondary infections from contaminated water.
Our bodies renew themselves with no input from our (conscious) minds: for example, the lining of our intestines replaces itself about every five days. In contrast, the endothelial cells of the heart, located inside blood vessels, power on for six years at a stretch. Transformation at such incremental scales hinges on one molecule that literally undergirds our physical and social identities: this is, of course, DNA.
Vacant lots remind us, bluntly, of what happens when humans transform landscapes and then neglect them. In ecological terms, these environments have undergone significant long-term disturbance: forests razed, prairies plowed up, wetlands drained to make smooth canvases for industrial and urban activity. Once industry leaves, cities depopulate or factories close, the buildings that replaced the trees face their own moments of destruction, but the ground remains.