By Janet (McClelland ’68) Bolin
The village of Threadville, Pennsylvania, has everything—a fabric store, yarn shop, quilting boutique, and Willow Vanderling's brand new shop, In Stitches, a hit with tourists eager to learn embroidering in the latest way, with software and machines. But when the village’s bullying zoning commissioner picks a fight with Willow and turns up dead in Willow's yard, the close-knit community starts unraveling at the seams. Willow must stitch together clues and find the real murderer, or the next thing she embroiders may be an orange prison jumpsuit. Coming from Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin) in June, Dire Threads includes a fun thread art project. This is Janet Bolin’s first novel. The second and third books in the Threadville Mystery series are scheduled for release in 2012 and 2013. Visit www.ThreadvilleMysteries.com to learn more about Janet, her character Willow, and the village of Threadville.
By Teju Cole (Yemi Onafuwa) '96
Teju Cole is the nom de plume of Yemi Onafuwa ’96. His first full-length novel, Open City (Random House, Feb. 2011) is the story of a young Nigerian-German psychiatrist in New York City five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A haunting novel about national identity, race, liberty, loss, dislocation, and surrender, Open City has received critical acclaim as a profound work by an important new author who has much to say about the America and the world. A New York Times reviewer labeled it “A compassionate and masterly work.” James Wood in The New Yorker wrote that the book is “Beautiful, subtle, and finally, original… Cole has made his novel as close to a diary as a novel can get, with room for reflection, autobiography, stasis, and repetition. This is extremely difficult, and many accomplished novelists would botch it, since a sure hand is needed to make the writer’s careful stitching look like a thread merely being followed for its own sake. Mysteriously, wonderfully, Cole does not botch it.” A reviewer in The Daily Beast called it “The most thoughtful and provocative debut I’ve read in a long time. The best first novel of 2011.” Open City is forthcoming from Faber & Faber in the UK, Denoël in France, and Acantilado in Spain. His earlier book, Every Day is for the Thief (Cassava Republic Press, 2007) is a novella with photographs. He’s at work on his third book, a nonfiction narrative of contemporary Lagos. Raised in Nigeria, the author came to the U.S. in 1992. He is a writer, photographer, and professional historian of early “Netherlandish” art. He lives in New York City. Onafuwa wrote about and photographed artist Julie Mehretu ’92 in the Spring 2011 LuxEsto.
By Dennis J. Frost
In Seeing Stars (Harvard University Asia Center, 2011), Dennis Frost traces the emergence and evolution of sports celebrity in Japan from the seventeenth through the twenty-first centuries. Frost explores how various constituencies have repeatedly molded and deployed representations of individual athletes, revealing that sports stars are socially constructed phenomena, the products of both particular historical moments and broader discourses of celebrity. Drawing from media coverage, biographies, literary works, athletes’ memoirs, bureaucratic memoranda, interviews, and films, Frost argues that the largely unquestioned mass of information about sports stars not only reflects, but also shapes society and body culture. He examines the lives and times of star athletes—including sumo grand champion Hitachiyama, female Olympic medalist Hitomi Kinue, legendary pitcher Sawamura Eiji, and world champion boxer Gushiken Yoko—demonstrating how representations of such sports stars mediated Japan’s emergence into the putatively universal realm of sports, unsettled orthodox notions of gender, facilitated wartime mobilization of physically fit men and women, and masked lingering inequalities in postwar Japanese society. As the first critical examination of the history of sports celebrity outside a Euro-American context, this book also sheds new light on the transnational forces at play in the production and impact of celebrity images and dispels misconceptions that sports stars in the non-West are mere imitations of their Western counterparts. Dennis Frost is Wen Chao Chen Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at Kalamazoo College.
By Jaime Grant, Ph.D.
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey was conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality. Jaime Grant is executive director of Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, and along with Lisa A. Mottet, J.D., and Justin Tanis, D.Min, is lead author of Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, The Survey was conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality. More than 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming study participants from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands answered questions about the depth and breadth of injustice in their lives. Their responses culminated in the first 360-degree picture of discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people in the United States, and it provides critical data points for policymakers, community activists, and legal advocates. Dr. Grant is also featured in a videotape that focuses on the survey. Transgender and gender non-conforming people face rampant discrimination in every area of life: education, employment, family life, public accommodations, housing, health, police and jails, and ID documents. This data in Injustice at Every Turn is so shocking that it will change the way you think about transgender people and it should change the way you advocate.
By Stephen Proper Gredler ’71
Written during a span of forty years, Steven Proper Gredler’s book titled Some Poems and Essays (Stephen Proper Gredler, Jan. 2011) also features art and photography by the author. Gredler started making his own G-Force cells about several years ago with his first computer and a self-formulated application. He used the cells for backgrounds for photographs. Gredler was educated in private schools, including Manter Hall in Cambridge, Mass., Kalamazoo College, and Northeastern University in Boston. He is an accomplished poet, writer, photographer and digital artist. See his work here.
By Chad Sweeney
The poems in Parable of Hide and Seek (Alice James Books, Nov. 2010) by Chad Sweeney transform intangible space into poetic playground. Poems unveil secret worlds, ecstatically reinventing archetypes for the American landscape. Hailed as the “Literary Discovery of the Year” by Jared Randall of Sabotage magazine, Parable was named in the “Top 30 Poetry Books of 2010” by Coldfront magazine. Poems from the book were selected for Best American Poetry and were read by Garrison Keillor on his National Public Radio program The Writer's Almanac. The book was selected for publication by Alice James Books among a thousand entries in the Beatrice Hawley Prize. According to Bob Hicok, Sweeney’s poems are “matryoshka dolls of imagination: strangeness inside longing, inside charm.” And according to Mary Ruefle, the poems in Parable “view the world through strangely faceted eyes (perhaps those of a dragonfly)…” Sweeney is a visiting assistant professor of English at Kalamazoo. He is the author of two previous books of poetry Arranging the Blaze (Anhinga, 2009) and An Architecture (BlazeVox, 2007), and five chapbooks, most recently The Lost Notebooks of Juan Sweeney (Forklift, 2010)—and he is co-translator, from the Farsi, of The Selected Poems of H.E. Sayeh (White Pine, 2011). Sweeney’s poems have appeared widely, including in Best American Poetry 2008 and American Poetry Review. He is coeditor of Parthenon West Review and editor of the anthology Days I Moved through Ordinary Sounds (City Lights, 2009).
By David Strauss
Before Julia Child's warbling voice and towering figure burst into America's homes, a gourmet food movement was already sweeping the nation. Setting the Table for Julia Child (The Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2011) considers how the tastes and techniques cultivated at dining clubs and in the pages of Gourmet magazine helped prepare many affluent Americans for Child’s lessons in French cooking. David Strauss argues that Americans’ appetite for haute cuisine had been growing ever since the repeal of Prohibition. Dazzled by visions of the good life presented in luxury lifestyle magazines and by the practices of the upper class, who adopted European taste and fashion, upper-middle-class Americans increasingly populated the gourmet movement. In the process, they came to appreciate the cuisine created by France’s greatest chef, Auguste Escoffier. Strauss’s impressive archival research illuminates themes -- gender, class, consumerism, and national identity -- that influenced the course of gourmet dining in America. He also points out how the work of painters and fine printers -- reproduced here -- called attention to the aesthetic of dining, a vision that heightened one’s anticipation of a gratifying experience. In the midst of this burgeoning gourmet food movement Child found her niche. The movement may have introduced affluent Americans to the pleasure of French cuisine years before Julia Child, but it was Julia’s lessons that expanded the audience for gourmet dining and turned lovers of French cuisine into cooks. David Strauss is Kalamazoo College professor emeritus of history. He also authored Percival Lowell: The Culture and Science of a Boston Brahmin (Harvard University Press, 2001).
By Joel Thurtell ’67
It was the greatest event of all time. Religion writer Daley Strumm knew it. But did his editors? Would his bosses at the Detroit Filibuster make sure their reporter was on hand at the crucial time at the crucial place? If he went and saw and wrote, would his paper print the story? What would have happened if newspapers had covered the Crucifixion? Award-winning newspaper reporter Joel Thurtell has achieved a literary tour de force with his portrayal of this journalistic challenge in his debut novel, Cross Purposes, in which the first Good Friday takes place in the present. The book is about a fictional Detroit daily that fumbles coverage of the Greatest Story. The antics of its reporters, editors, and photographers are similar enough to actual newspaper behavior and mindsets to explain why the newspaper industry is in chaos. Subtitled If Newspapers Had Covered the Crucifixion, Thurtell’s book is a primer on hubris, arrogance, prejudice, greed, and ambition as driving forces in the news industry. Thurtell was a newspaper reporter for more than thirty years at the Detroit Free Press and the South Bend Tribune. His blog, joelontheroad.com, was named “best example of an independent blogger raising hell” by MetroTimes, Detroit's alternative newspaper. Cross Purposes follows publication of Thurtell’s Shoestring Reporter, a handbook on how to become a journalist and still retain intellectual honesty and autonomy. The two books are part of a projected series, Shoestring Quartet.
By Anthony Youn ’94 with Alan Eisenstock
Dr. Anthony Youn is a Michigan-based, board-certified plastic surgeon. His new book, In Stitches (Simon & Schuster, April 2011) has been dubbed “Scrubs meets David Sedaris” and “part Grey’s Anatomy and part Nip-Tuck.” It’s a hilarious fish-out-of-water memoir about a young Korean-American nerd turned renowned plastic surgeon. Tony Youn grew up one of two Asian-American kids in a small town where diversity was uncommon. Too tall and too thin, he wore thick Coke-bottle glasses, braces, Hannibal Lecter headgear, and had a protruding jaw that one day began to grow, expanding to an unthinkable, monstrous size. After high school graduation, while other seniors partied at the beach or explored Europe, Youn lay strapped in an oral surgeon’s chair where he underwent a life-changing jaw reconstruction. Ironically, it was this brutal makeover that led him to his life’s calling—after earning a B.A. degree from Kalamazoo College and an M.D. degree from Michigan State University. Offering a window into a side of medicine that most people never see, Youn shares his bumpy journey from a shy, skinny, awkward nerd into a renowned and successful plastic surgeon. Now, Youn is the media’s go-to plastic surgeon. He appears regularly on The Rachael Ray Show, and his blog, Celebrity Cosmetic Surgery, is widely read and the most popular blog by a plastic surgeon in the country. But it was a long road to success, and In Stitches recounts Dr. Youn’s misfit adolescence and his four tumultuous years in medical school with striking wit, heart, and humility. For anyone who has ever experienced the awkward teenage years, who has struggled to find his or her way in college, who has been worried that their “calling” would never come, who wants to believe that their doctor really cares, or is just ready for a read that will make you laugh and cry at the same time, this book is for you. Youn lives and practices medicine in suburban Detroit.