This Weekend: Escape This Messy World With a Memoir - OZY | A Modern Media Company

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The Weekender is a special collaboration between OZY Tribe members near and far to provide delicious recommendations for your valuable weekend time, as we grapple with turbulent times in America

By Joshua Eferighe

Great Memoirs

Men We Reaped. In this powerful memoir, author Jesmyn Ward takes you behind the statistics and hashtags that have too often been the lasting memory of the Black men they represent, focusing on five young men who died violently. Using her hometown of DeLisle, Mississippi — which readers of Ward’s National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones may recognize as the real-life version of its fictional Bois Sauvage setting — Ward offers rich social and economic context, as well as personal and painful memory. 

The Zanzibar Chest. Part memoir and part non-fiction investigation, Reuters journalist Aidan Hartley — born in Kenya to white British parents and raised between East Africa and England — has a complex personal story of his own place on the continent, both as a child and as an adult war correspondent. But alongside that story is another: Hartley’s investigation of the circumstances under which a friend of his father’s died, sparked by diaries Hartley discovered in the eponymous luggage. 

The Caliph’s House. If you’ve run through every home renovation show on Netflix, this book will fill the same void — while being far more edifying and inspiring. Afghan British writer Tahir Shah, inspired by childhood visits to his grandfather’s house in Morocco, uprooted his London family to occupy a crumbling palatial house in Casablanca. The book details home renovations reputedly cursed by magical jinns while the author comes to terms with the foreign culture in which he’s found himself.  

The Big Truck That Went By. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti, recorded as the deadliest in the history of the Western Hemisphere, caught the world’s attention — but didn’t see locals receive the help they needed. To find out how that happened (and get really mad), read this memoir from Jonathan Katz, the only American journalist stationed in Haiti when the quake hit. His book also takes a tour through Haiti’s complex and violent history of colonization and revolution. 

Donation Station

Donation box with books

Pizza vs. the Pandemic. Our money’s on pizza. This collaborative project of several pizza-focused charities that aim to alleviate hunger or make voting easier by sending pizza to polling places is now taking donations to take on COVID-19. So far they’ve raised $636,000 to buy pies from local pizzerias and have them delivered to care centers and hospitals

Prisoners Literature Project. This small, volunteer-run charity has a pretty simple premise: Get more books to America’s incarcerated population. You can donate money, of course, but you can also buy books from the organization’s wishlist — or, given how broke a lot of us are right now, just donate the books you have and aren’t ever going to read. Maybe somebody’s life will be changed by your pristine copy of Swann’s Way.

Thrillride TV

TB copy

Top Boy. Think of it as Britain’s answer to The Wire. This mile-a-minute U.K. drama set in a crime-ridden London housing project got two seasons back in 2013 before it was dropped. It would have disappeared entirely — until who should come to the rescue but Drake. The rapper’s interest convinced Netflix to reboot the show last year, and another season is already in the works. 

The Bridge. The fact that this 2011 show has gotten a billion spinoffs with essentially the same premise should give you a clue about its staying power. For our money, the Scandinavian original — in which a Swedish and Danish detective have to split custody of an investigation when a body is found half in one country and half in the other — is the best. But once you’ve binged that, feel free to move on to the other versions, like The Tunnel (same idea, but set in the English Channel tunnel connecting Britain and France) or The Bridge, set on the U.S.-Mexico border. If you really get into the idea, we can even (sort of) recommend 2006 Canadian dark comedy Bon Cop, Bad Cop, in which a Québécois and a Torontonian have to work together to solve a murder.  

Monsterland. Halloween ends when you say it does. This anthology series is devoted to the monsters lurking across the United States — and within us. Some of the episodes are better than others, but the decision to avoid jump scares and focus on human emotions really works here. Keep your eye out for familiar, well-used actors like Kelly Marie Tran (aka Rose from the new Star Wars trilogy) and Kaitlyn Dever from Booksmart. 

Podcasts to Catch You Up

Beyond the Bubble. This podcast from McClatchy Newspapers aims to get listeners outside of D.C. groupthink … or at least as much as one can with discussions among political reporters and editors. The good-natured sparring between hosts Kristin Roberts and Alex Roarty is fun, as well as a regular “notebook dump” feature to tell listeners something they aren’t getting elsewhere. This week: What the heck happened with the polls? 

When Katty Met Carlos. No idea what to make of this mess?We’ve got you covered. In partnership with the BBC World Service, OZY’s latest podcast, When Katty Met Carlos, this week breaks down what on earth happened on Tuesday, and what it means for America — and the world. Tune in to hear the BBC’s Katty Kay and OZY’s Carlos Watson give the lowdown from their situation-room conversations with key players over the past four days. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, the iHeart Radio app or wherever else you get your podcasts.

Best Broths

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Peruvian Minestrone Verde. Yes, the base is beef bone broth, but the real draw of this wintry soup is the vegetables — which, courtesy spinach and basil, will turn your dinner bright emerald green. Potatoes, peas, cabbage and garlic all contribute to the hearty, healthy flavor, with some pasta just for the heck of it. Still, it’s the hunks of steak dropped in that really amp up this gorgeous winter dinner.  

Canh Chua. We are not doctors (or Gwyneth Paltrow) and cannot offer any actual opinions on the detoxing or healthful qualities of this Vietnamese hot and sour soup. All we know is this spicy, tangy miracle makes us feel great. This version is vegan and gluten free, using tomatoes, cilantro and mushrooms for color and tamarind paste (or lime juice if you can’t find tamarind paste) to give it bite. If tofu isn’t enough to keep you full, try subbing in shrimp. 

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