95 books like Duress

By Ann Laura Stoler,

Here are 95 books that Duress fans have personally recommended if you like Duress. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Open City

Ted Pelton Author Of Malcolm & Jack: And Other Famous American Criminals

From my list on historical 2000s novels that aren’t all the same.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of American literary history. Still, as an undergraduate, I studied with a charismatic, postmodern French-American fiction writer, Raymond Federman, who, in a theatrical accent, called me by my last name, “Pel-tone.” Atop the Kurt Vonnegut I’d read in high school that gave me my taste for crazy, socially-conscious novels that I have tried myself also to write, I imbibed the books Federman sent my way: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett. In years since, I’ve championed innovative novels through my own small press, Starcherone Books. I am an artist whose greatest passion is discovering writing that makes me see in new ways.

Ted's book list on historical 2000s novels that aren’t all the same

Ted Pelton Why did Ted love this book?

All that happens throughout most of this book is that a Nigerian grad student in psychiatry nightly wanders end-to-end the streets of New York City, observing. And yet I couldn’t put this book down, riveted by this angry mind on fire and the differences in the landscape he sees from the one I thought I knew so well.

Author Teju Cole is highly visual, as one would expect from one whose other job as he wrote this was as photography editor of the New York Times Magazine. But then, as you get to the ending of his narrator’s musings, as you feel you have a handle on this plotless novel, the trap is sprung so that you cannot but reevaluate everything that has come before. This book is a stunner!

By Teju Cole,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Open City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling debut novel from a writer heralded as the twenty-first-century W. G. Sebald.

A haunting novel about national identity, race, liberty, loss and surrender, Open City follows a young Nigerian doctor as he wanders aimlessly along the streets of Manhattan. For Julius the walks are a release from the tight regulations of work, from the emotional fallout of a failed relationship, from lives past and present on either side of the Atlantic.

Isolated amid crowds of bustling strangers, Julius criss-crosses not just physical landscapes but social boundaries too, encountering people whose otherness sheds light on his own remarkable journey…


Book cover of The Undocumented Americans

Glenda R. Carpio Author Of Migrant Aesthetics: Contemporary Fiction, Global Migration, and the Limits of Empathy

From my list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I embody the “American Dream” mythology: I came to the United States as a child who did not speak English and had few means. And now I am the Chair of the English Department at Harvard. But I am the exception, not the rule. So many migrants die on perilous journeys or survive only to live marginal lives under surveillance. Yet we don’t always ask why people risk their lives and those of their children to migrate. And when we do, we don’t often go beyond the first layer of answers. The list of books I recommend allows us to think deeply about the roots of forced migration.

Glenda's book list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world

Glenda R. Carpio Why did Glenda love this book?

Cornejo Villavicencio renders the lives of the undocumented across America with razor-sharp clarity, intertwining her own story throughout.

She shows us how the undocumented struggle to find work, healthcare, and safety while also maintaining their families, integrity, and sanity. She becomes a medium for immigrant stories that might otherwise remain illegible except as fodder for ideological battles.

Cornejo Villavicencio was one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard and was a PhD candidate at Yale at the time of her book’s publication; this marks her as an exceptional kind of speaker, and the book’s marketing and reviews rarely failed to mention these facts.

And yet Cornejo Villavicencio vehemently rejects the American-dream mythology that would make her life exemplary. Even so, that mythology orbits around her book, showing how difficult it is to disentangle false themes of transcendence from migrant literature.

But Cornejo Villavicencio cuts through the sentimental or…

By Karla Cornejo Villavicencio,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Undocumented Americans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation.

“Karla’s book sheds light on people’s personal experiences and allows their stories to be told and their voices to be heard.”—Selena Gomez

FINALIST FOR THE NBCC JOHN LEONARD AWARD • NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, NPR, THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, BOOK RIOT, LIBRARY JOURNAL, AND TIME

Writer Karla Cornejo Villavicencio was on…


Book cover of The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move

Glenda R. Carpio Author Of Migrant Aesthetics: Contemporary Fiction, Global Migration, and the Limits of Empathy

From my list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I embody the “American Dream” mythology: I came to the United States as a child who did not speak English and had few means. And now I am the Chair of the English Department at Harvard. But I am the exception, not the rule. So many migrants die on perilous journeys or survive only to live marginal lives under surveillance. Yet we don’t always ask why people risk their lives and those of their children to migrate. And when we do, we don’t often go beyond the first layer of answers. The list of books I recommend allows us to think deeply about the roots of forced migration.

Glenda's book list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world

Glenda R. Carpio Why did Glenda love this book?

Drawing on a wide range of research, Shah counteracts the common assumption that contemporary human and nonhuman migrations represent an unprecedented global crisis.

She reframes migration as a biological and cultural necessity that has been a crucial part of human history and shows how it has been fueled by such factors as economic inequality, politics, nationalism, colonialism, etc. I learned so much from this meticulously researched, yet highly readable book.

I love how it asks readers to consider migration and its history from multiple perspectives and that it can help us think and prepare for an increase of migration due to climate change.

By Sonia Shah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Next Great Migration as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
A Library Journal Best Science & Technology Book of 2020
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of 2020
2020 Goodreads Choice Award Semifinalist in Science & Technology

A prize-winning journalist upends our centuries-long assumptions about migration through science, history, and reporting--predicting its lifesaving power in the face of climate change.

The news today is full of stories of dislocated people on the move. Wild species, too, are escaping warming seas and desiccated lands, creeping, swimming, and flying in a mass exodus from their past habitats. News media presents this scrambling…


Book cover of This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto

Glenda R. Carpio Author Of Migrant Aesthetics: Contemporary Fiction, Global Migration, and the Limits of Empathy

From my list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I embody the “American Dream” mythology: I came to the United States as a child who did not speak English and had few means. And now I am the Chair of the English Department at Harvard. But I am the exception, not the rule. So many migrants die on perilous journeys or survive only to live marginal lives under surveillance. Yet we don’t always ask why people risk their lives and those of their children to migrate. And when we do, we don’t often go beyond the first layer of answers. The list of books I recommend allows us to think deeply about the roots of forced migration.

Glenda's book list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world

Glenda R. Carpio Why did Glenda love this book?

This is a heart-felt but infinitely well-researched book that asks us to go beyond the usual answers one might give to the question of why migrants risk everything and leave their homes (i.e., gang violence, climate change, war, hunger).

Instead, Mehta shows how colonial and neo-colonial forces have and continue to cause migration flows. People migrate, Mehta says, “because the accumulated burdens of history have rendered their homelands less and less habitable.”

As someone who had to leave a country that was thrust into a four-decade-long civil war because of American intervention (the CIA), I appreciate the clear-eye and convincing argument Mehta makes about contemporary migration: it is directly due to American and European political interests (i.e., the Cold War) and their extraction and theft of gold, silver, cash crops, and human beings from the Global South. And it is fueled by black market demands for drugs and arms that…

By Suketu Mehta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Land Is Our Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An impassioned defence of global immigration from the acclaimed author of Maximum City.

Drawing on his family's own experience emigrating from India to Britain and America, and years of reporting around the world, Suketu Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny. The West, he argues, is being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of immigrants. He juxtaposes the phony narratives of populist ideologues with the ordinary heroism of labourers, nannies and others, from Dubai to New York, and explains why more people are on the move today than ever before. As civil strife and climate change…


Book cover of The Sign of the Cannibal: Melville and the Making of a Postcolonial Reader

Wyn Kelley and Christopher Sten Author Of "Whole Oceans Away": Melville and the Pacific

From my list on understanding Herman Melville’s itch for adventure.

Why are we passionate about this?

We approached our book, theme, and recommendations as readers and lovers of Melville’s work who were inspired by following in his footsteps to places “whole oceans away,” as he describes the Pacific in Moby-Dick. Melville traveled widely and kept up his travels throughout a lifetime of further exploration, as well as voluminous writing. We want to share the exhilaration of traveling with a writer: that is, by reading of Melville’s travels, traveling to the places he visited, and also hearing from people who know those places too. We hope our book gives readers contact with the many dimensions of global travel, in whatever form they find for themselves.

Wyn and Christopher's book list on understanding Herman Melville’s itch for adventure

Wyn Kelley and Christopher Sten Why did Wyn and Christopher love this book?

Sanborn’s is one of the best books for tracing a thought process experienced by Melville, or many a Western traveler in the Pacific trying to make sense of challenging cultural differences. Focusing on the taboo topic of cannibalism, Sanborn breaks down Western anxieties and fears of the unknown, showing how Melville balanced different cultural perspectives against his own experience. The result is a profoundly informative guide to how one may rethink cultural norms and how Melville’s later works reflected on his foundational early experiences and travels.

By Geoffrey Sanborn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sign of the Cannibal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Sign of the Cannibal Geoffrey Sanborn offers a major reassessment of the work of Herman Melville, a definitive history of the post-Enlightenment discourse on cannibalism, and a provocative contribution to postcolonial theory. These investigations not only explore mid-nineteenth century resistance to the colonial enterprise but argue that Melville, using the discourse on cannibalism to critique colonialism, contributed to the production of resistance.
Sanborn focuses on the representations of cannibalism in three of Melville's key texts-Typee, Moby-Dick, and "Benito Cereno." Drawing on accounts of Pacific voyages from two centuries and virtually the entire corpus of the post-Enlightenment discourse on…


Book cover of Epidemic Empire: Colonialism, Contagion, and Terror, 1817–2020

Pamela K. Gilbert Author Of Mapping the Victorian Social Body

From my list on how epidemics relate to bigger narratives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began college as a science major, but then switched to literature from a minor to my major. In graduate school, as I worked on my dissertation (which became my first book), I found that metaphors of the body and health were everywhere in the literary field in the mid-nineteenth century. Suffice it to say that the sciences, including the rapid development of modern medicine, are both fundamental to this period and deeply shape its literary culture. In Mapping the Victorian Social Body, I became fascinated with the history of data visualization. Disease mapping completely transformed the ways we understand space and how our bodies exist within it.

Pamela's book list on how epidemics relate to bigger narratives

Pamela K. Gilbert Why did Pamela love this book?

This book begins with cholera and the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and vampire novels, and then moves forward in time to examine the longstanding continued use of epidemic disease as a metaphor to describe political revolt and terror. Kolb argues that the colonial state has long positioned itself as a hygienic "doctor" treating political "disease," and shows clearly why understanding political activity within the frame of disease is so damaging. Moving through the mid-twentieth century with Camus and Algeria, to Rushdie, 2001, and the shameful history of the US torture memo, Kolb's argument is both historically sweeping and persuasive.   

By Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Epidemic Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Terrorism is a cancer, an infection, an epidemic, a plague. For more than a century, this metaphor has figured insurgent violence as contagion in order to contain its political energies. In Epidemic Empire, Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb shows that this trope began in responses to the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and tracks its tenacious hold through 9/11 and beyond. The result is the first book-length study to approach the global war on terror from a postcolonial literary perspective.

Raza Kolb assembles a diverse archive from colonial India, imperial Britain, French and independent Algeria, the postcolonial Islamic diaspora, and the neo-imperial…


Book cover of Postcolonial Astrology: Reading the Planets through Capital, Power, and Labor

Amy Torok and Risa Dickens Author Of Missing Witches Deck of Oracles: Feminist Ancestor Magic for Meditations, Divination, and Spellwork

From my list on understanding real modern witchcraft.

Why we are passionate about this?

We are Witches. Real Witches, doing real magic, casting spells, and weaving webs. We are Amy Torok and Risa Dickens–the co-creators of the Missing Witches project, researching what it means to be a Witch. Together, we have put out almost 300 podcast episodes and published two books and an oracle deck of cards: Missing Witches: Recovering True Histories Of Feminist Magic, New Moon Magic: 13 Anti-capitalist Tools for Resistance and Re-enchantment, and The Missing Witches Deck of Oracles: Feminist Ancestor Magic for Meditations, Divination and Spellwork. Our first book appeared on VICE Magazine’s list: The Best Books for Starting an Occult Library.

Amy and Risa's book list on understanding real modern witchcraft

Amy Torok and Risa Dickens Why did Amy and Risa love this book?

If anyone ever tries to tell you that studying astrology is brainless, send them a copy of this book. We were amazed and astonished by the research and intellect that Alice infused in this work, tackling Euro-centrist history and forcing it open to reveal a praxis for recontextualizing the stars.

This is astrology beyond horoscopes, beyond personality types. We were electrified to read Alice’s view that astrology is a language we can use to communicate and that history amounts to collective memory. This book blew our minds.

By Alice Sparkly Kat,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Postcolonial Astrology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tapping into the political power of magic and astrology for social, community, and personal transformation.

In a cross-cultural approach to understanding astrology as a magical language, Alice Sparkly Kat unmasks the political power of astrology, showing how it can be channeled as a force for collective healing and liberation.

Too often, magic and astrology are divorced from their potency and cultural contexts: co-opted by neoliberalism, used as a force of oppression, or distilled beyond recognition into applications that belie their individual and collective power. By looking at the symbolic and etymological histories of the sun, moon, Saturn, Venus, Mercury, Mars,…


Book cover of Beyond Coloniality: Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition

Carole Boyce Davies Author Of Caribbean Spaces: Escapes from Twilight Zone

From my list on Caribbean reparative justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Caribbean-American literary scholar who has spent many years studying, lecturing and writing about the interrelated fields of African Diaspora literature and culture, meaning the creative and theoretical productions of writers from Africa, the United States, Latin America, Brazil, and the Caribbean. I teach a variety of these subjects and enjoy the combinations of politics, creativity, and cultural expression that they contribute. These books provide you with a good cross-section of what is available in the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora.

Carole's book list on Caribbean reparative justice

Carole Boyce Davies Why did Carole love this book?

Kamugisha, is an able representative of a new generation of scholars who offers a contemporary examination which presents some of the theoretical issues and ideas that inform Caribbean studies and history. The reader will get a good sense of some of the major historical contributors who have shaped Caribbean history, philosophy, and culture as they attempted to move “beyond” the colonial experience.

By Aaron Kamugisha,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beyond Coloniality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Against the lethargy and despair of the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean experience, Aaron Kamugisha gives a powerful argument for advancing Caribbean radical thought as an answer to the conundrums of the present. Beyond Coloniality is an extended meditation on Caribbean thought and freedom at the beginning of the 21st century and a profound rejection of the postindependence social and political organization of the Anglophone Caribbean and its contentment with neocolonial arrangements of power. Kamugisha provides a dazzling reading of two towering figures of the Caribbean intellectual tradition, C. L. R. James and Sylvia Wynter, and their quest for human freedom beyond…


Book cover of Shame On Me: A Memoir of Race And Belonging

Haroon Khalid Author Of Walking with Nanak

From my list on merging genres and writing styles.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love reading history that is told in an experimental, interesting manner – history merged with travel, fiction, magical realism, etc. I began my writing career as a travel writer, bringing together history with travel but increasingly I have begun to experiment more. My book Walking with Nanak brings together 4 genres. One intellectual question that I have pursued through my writing is challenging modern notions of national, religious, and ethnic identities. I see my writing style as an extension of that pursuit, breaking away from the neat compartmentalization of genres. 

Haroon's book list on merging genres and writing styles

Haroon Khalid Why did Haroon love this book?

This book is also a fascinating and completely new way of telling history, merging travel writing with personal family history. The author in this remarkable book travels through her own body to talk about the history of her family, and her own story – a story that is connected with the broader stories of colonization, post-colonialism, racism, capitalism, and many other macro, structural issues.

By Tessa McWatt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shame On Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 OCM BOCAS PRIZE FOR CARIBBEAN LITERATURE

'What are you?'

Tessa McWatt knows first-hand that the answer to this question, often asked of people of colour by white people, is always more complicated than it seems. Is the answer English, Scottish, British, Caribbean, Portuguese, Indian, Amerindian, French, African, Chinese, Canadian? Like most families, hers is steeped in myth and the anecdotes of grandparents and parents who view their histories through the lens of desire, aspiration, loss, and shame.

In Shame On Me she unspools all the interwoven strands of her inheritance, and knits them back together using…


Book cover of Performing Whiteness: Postmodern Re/Constructions in the Cinema

Frederick W. Gooding Jr. Author Of Black Oscars: From Mammy to Minny, What the Academy Awards Tell Us about African Americans

From my list on the impact of movies outside the theater.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of pop culture, so I know personally that talking about race can be so incredibly awkward at times – but it does not always have to be! Often, many restrict themselves from fully participating in these necessary dialogues only because of a profound fear of “saying the wrong thing.” As individuals responsible for preparing a new generation of thinkers prepared to innovate improved solutions for the society we share, inevitably, the topic of race must not only be broached, but broached productively. I write to provide tools to help make such difficult conversations less difficult.

Frederick's book list on the impact of movies outside the theater

Frederick W. Gooding Jr. Why did Frederick love this book?

This book is both valuable and important primarily because whenever most conversations get started about race relations, magically white people as a group are “left out” as attention is turned to black, indigenous, Latino, or other people of color.

This book prompts readers to reconcile with whiteness as a larger category of analysis to deepen our understanding of complex race relations.

By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Performing Whiteness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Explores how whiteness is culturally constructed in American films.

Performing Whiteness crosses the boundaries of film study to explore images of the white body in relation to recent theoretical perspectives on whiteness.

Drawing on such diverse critical methodologies as postcolonial studies, feminist film criticism, anthropology, and phenomenology, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster examines a wide variety of films from early cinema to the present day in order to explore the ways in which American cinema imposes whiteness as a cultural norm, even as it exposes its inherent instability.

In discussions that range from The Philadelphia Story to Attack…


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