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. Set in 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’s story offers rich social and economic context, as well as personal and painful memory.
2. 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 Zanzibar chest of the title.
3. 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 jinns, or Arabian supernatural beings, while the author comes to terms with the foreign culture in which he’s found himself.
4. 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.
The coolest new streaming platform is finally here. With CuriosityStream you can dive into history and explore nonfiction films and series. Interested in something else? They have thousands of documentaries on topics ranging from food to space exploration to animals.
Best of all, for a limited time, OZY readers can spark their curiosity and get a full year of access for only $1.25 per month with an annual plan using code OZY.
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.
2. 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.
Cranberry juice just doesn’t cut it. It’s time to join the 100,000 people who have used Uqora to stay healthy. It was created by a chronic UTI sufferer who had tried it all and was sick of the constant cycle of infections. Uqora specializes in proactive urinary tract health supplements developed from the best research available in collaboration with top physicians and scientists. Get started today, with 20 percent off your first order here.
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 — if rapper Drake had not come to the rescue. The Grammy-winner’s interest convinced Netflix to reboot the show last year, and another season is already in the works.
2. 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.
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.
4. The Liberator
This experiment in adult animation was actually shot with live actors and animated after the fact, like that one Instagram filter. It tells the World War II story of Felix Sparks (read up on him here) and the diverse platoon he led that liberated Dachau in 1945, a gut-wrenching historical incident that’s well-dramatized here.
podcasts to catch you up
1. 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 will President-elect Joe Biden’s first moves be?
2. 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 this week breaks down what's happening with the presidential transition, even if President Donald Trump hasn’t officially conceded. 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.
Yes, the base is beef bone broth, but the real draw of this wintry soup is the vegetables — which, courtesy of 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.
2. 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.