In January, NYU Press published Fear in Our Hearts: What Islamophobia Tells Us About America by Caleb Iyer Elfenbein, Grinnell associate professor of religious studies and history and director of the Center for the Humanities. Elfenbein incorporates data from the Grinnell College National Poll and many other sources to examine Islamophobia in the United States, positing that rather than simply being an outcome of the 9/11 attacks, anti-Muslim activity grows out of a fear of difference that has always characterized American public life.
Authors and Artists
In Green, Fair, and Prosperous: Paths to a Sustainable Iowa, published in September 2020 by the University of Iowa Press, Charles Connerly ’68 argues that Iowa must reckon with its past and the fact that its farm economy continues to pollute waterways while remaining utterly unprepared for climate change. For development to be sustainable, society must balance it with environmental protection and social justice, and Connerly provides a crucial road map for how Iowans can move forward and achieve this balance
Hole in the Sky by Monique Vescia ’81 is a satirical novel published by Roughhouse Books in January 2021. It’s the spring of 2021 and the unthinkable has happened: A certain someone has been elected to a second term as president. As life in the United States solidifies into a brutal alternative reality, a Syrian refugee named Petra fights to secure a homeland on a patch of garbage in the sea.
Soundrise by Lynn Voedisch ’76 is a blend of technology, fantasy, adventure, and poignant human interaction. Published in February by Story Plant Books, it tells the story of an elite programmer who spends all his off hours pursuing some enigmatic and possibly world-altering trove of data. It leads him far beyond the comforts of his console to a world of ancient Egyptian goddesses and ageless mysteries. John Straley ’76 also adds a review blurb included on Voedisch’s website..
The Smash-Up by Ali Wade Benjamin ’92, published by Random House in February, incorporates names and elements of Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome into a thoroughly modern story of political resistance, #metoo allegations, progressive parenting, and marriage in a small town. The Smash-Up is at once an intimate, moving portrait of a family in distress, a vivid examination of our roiling national rancor, and a powerful exploration of how the things we fail to notice can shatter a family, a community, and a nation.
The Upstairs House: A Novel by Julia Fine ’10, published by HarperCollins in February, is a provocative meditation on new motherhood — Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening — in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book author Margaret Wise Brown. The book has been named a Good Morning America Book of the Month selection, a “POPSUGAR” Must-Read Book of the Month, and Most Anticipated Book of the Year by The Millions and BuzzFeed.
Harold Kasimow, professor emeritus of religious studies at Grinnell, edited Abraham Joshua Heschel Today: Voices from Warsaw and Jerusalem. Heschel remains one of the most creative Jewish thinkers of the 20th century. This book of essays, published by Wipf and Stock in August, demonstrates that Heschel became a spiritual guide not only in America but in many other parts of the world.
In Historic Church Serves Big City: St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Provides Sanctuary in the City, Phyllis Ball Kester ’61 explores what a small congregation can do with the blend of developmental leadership and societal needs in its own backyard. Published by Wipf and Stock in October, the book also reveals the interweaving of the church’s internal spiritual nurturing with the external vocation of the church at work in the world.
Resisting Segregation: Cleveland Heights Activists Shape Their Community 1964–1976 is an account by Susan Kaeser ’69 of the transformation of her community from an exclusive, insular suburb to a racially inclusive, diverse community and national model of stable integration. Published in September by Cleveland Landmarks Press, the book demonstrates how citizen activism works, how people can fight systemic racism, and how our communities can improve with a commitment to equity.
The Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art in Berlin is featuring the work of Martha Cooper ’63 in an exhibition entitled Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures. This exhibit is the first comprehensive retrospective of Cooper’s photographic work to date. In the late 1970s, she began documenting graffiti and hip-hop. In 1977 she became the first female photographer to work for the New York Post. Using photographs and personal objects, the exhibition spans six decades and traces Cooper’s life, paying tribute to her as an important documentarist of the worldwide urban art movement. Due to the pandemic and temporary closure of the museum, many images and videos from the exhibition have been made available.