Being a socially conscious place, the Bay Area has a lot of authors who put societal issues front and center in their work, and a number of recent releases offer some intriguing non-fiction reads. From the story of an undercover reporter exposing the corrupt world of for-profit prisons (American Prison), to the trials and tribulations of a woman raised in the U.S. foster care system (Someone Has Led This Child to Believe), some of these authors fearlessly examine issues at home. Others examine the lives of immigrants and Americans abroad, with one addressing the issues of race and politics faced by an American baseball player in the Dominican Republic in the 1930s (The Pitcher and the Dictator), and another the challenging life of an female poet in Iran in the 1940s (Song of a Captive Bird). These inspiring reads are perfect for those times when you feel like exchanging that fluffy beach read for something a whole lot more thought-provoking.
In the tradition of great undercover journalism, reporter Shane Bauer got himself a job at a private prison in Louisiana’s Winn Correctional Center in 2014 with the intent of discovering what actually goes on inside a place most of us would prefer to forget exists. What he found was the dark underbelly of for-profit incarceration. While Bauer left the job after four months, the subject never left his mind. Bauer, who was held hostage in Iran from 2009 to 2011, later described the Louisiana stint in an award-winning piece for Mother Jones (“My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard”). American Prison is his deeper dive into the private prison system and the corporate interests that drive it.
Read the interview with Bauer on marinmagazine.com.
In this beautiful follow-up to Somebody’s Someone, Regina Louise’s debut memoir about growing up in the U.S. foster care system, Louise once again draws on her experience as one of society’s abandoned children to tell how she emerged from the harsh and dehumanizing system, not only to survive, but to flourish. This book is the beautiful follow-up to Somebody’s Someone, Regina Louise’s debut memoir about growing up in the U.S. foster care system. In this book, Louise once again draws on her experience as one of society’s abandoned children to tell how she emerged from the harsh and dehumanizing system, not only to survive, but to flourish.
Read the interview with Louise on marinmagazine.com.
Soon after Satchel Paige arrived at spring training in 1937 to pitch for the Pittsburgh Crawfords, he and five of his teammates were lured to the Dominican Republic with the promise of easy money to play a short baseball tournament in support of the country’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo. As it turned out, the money wasn’t so easy. After Paige and his friends arrived on the island, they found themselves under the thumb of Trujillo, known by Dominicans for murdering those who disappointed him.
Read the interview with Smith on marinmagazine.com.
In Jasmin Darznik’s spellbinding debut novel, the famed Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad takes center stage in a story set against Iran’s pivot toward Westernization in the 1940s. Writing with the same grace, humor and poignant observational detail that made her best-selling memoir The Good Daughter an unforgettable read, Darznik rightly celebrates Farrokhzad’s role in birthing a feminist movement in Iran. A compassionately written, inspiring work of fiction, Song of a Captive Bird proves Jasmin Darznik is a master of her craft and a modern voice of immense talent.
Read the interview with Darznik on marinmagazine.com.