A selection of books, films, and recordings by UChicago alumni.
By Anne Allison, AM’80, PhD’86; Duke University Press, 2023
In recent decades, Japan has experienced economic depression, urbanization, an aging population, declining marriage and childbirth rates, and a rise in single households. As a result, more people live and die alone, and traditional practices of caring for the deceased often are no longer possible. Cultural anthropologist Anne Allison explores these changes and the new mortuary businesses and initiatives—such as interment of commingled ashes in collective burial sites, one-stop mortuary complexes, and even robotic priests—that have appeared in Japan to provide alternatives to ancestral graves and familial caregiving. Allison’s analysis of this evolving ecology of death provides insight into the forces shaping Japanese identity, society, and traditions.
By W. Kamau Bell, LAB’90; Get Lifted Film Company and HBO Documentary Films, 2023
Through conversations with Bay Area mixed-race children aged 7 to 16 and their families, filmmaker and comedian W. Kamau Bell asks how young people today navigate questions of identity in a country still deeply divided by race. By turns playful and serious, Bell’s interviews highlight the joys and challenges of a multiracial upbringing and explore how these children’s experiences differ from those of previous generations. The children talk about all the things that make them who they are: language, religion, and appearance as well as their favorite music, foods, and animals. The documentary shows that children have important contributions to make to our understanding of race and identity.
By Korey Garibaldi, AM’10, PhD’16; Princeton University Press, 2023
Viewed by many as a means to publishing success, artistic innovation, and racial pluralism in the first half of the 20th century, literary partnerships across racial lines came under fire in the 1960s. With the rise of the civil rights and Black power movements, authors, critics, publishers, and agents once celebrated for pushing the boundaries of Black literature through interracial collaborations were condemned as too White. Korey Garibaldi studies archival sources to recall this complex interracial era in American publishing and asks what its architects can teach us about building an inclusive society today.
By Cleo Qian, AB’15; Tin House, 2023
In her debut short story collection, Cleo Qian probes the technology-mediated lives of Asian and Asian American women. The unsettling, often surreal stories feature restless, desirous, compulsive women who challenge gendered expectations and stereotypes of docility. These characters form and break relationships in a contemporary society where lives are fragmented by screens and the pressures of consumer culture are relentless. Throughout the collection, Qian asks what place tenderness has in this modern world—and how one can hold on to it.
By David Chrisinger, AM’10; Penguin Press, 2023
Ernie Pyle’s empathetic dispatches from the WWII front lines invited millions of Americans into the day-to-day experien-ces of ordinary soldiers: fingers numb from the Algerian winter, constant dust clouds, the aches of “battlefield fever,” the dullness of routine. David Chrisinger draws on Pyle’s columns and personal correspondence to reconstruct Pyle’s perspective on the war and to offer a glimpse of his and his wife’s mental health struggles during and after the war. Along the way Chrisinger shares his research process, which took him around the globe to the landmarks of Pyle’s writing. With this biography, Chrisinger brings to light the impact of Pyle’s work and raises questions about how we perceive and make sense of war. Chrisinger is the executive director of the writing workshop at the Harris School of Public Policy.