WTF Friday, 1/7/11

With the South Sudan referendum fast-approaching, George Clooney’s “Not On Our Watch” is funding commercial sattelites to monitor possible conflict in the country. Clooney has described it as “the best use of his celebrity.” Kinda just seems like he’s trying to recruit a mercenary for Ocean’s Fourteen.

The Dominican Republic has again begun deporting illegal immigrants from Haiti after suspending this practice in the wake of last year’s earthquake. Alright, looks like everything’s back to normal.

Al Shabaab has arrested regional leaders for stealing $10,000 in aid intended for drought-affected areas. If they just kicked out the remaining aid agencies they wouldn’t have to worry about this kind of embarrassment…

Congratulations Junot Diaz!

We at Amanda HQ are THRILLED to announce that Junot Diaz has won a National Book Critics Award for The Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao.

Brief Wonderful Life is my favorite book right now. It puts the book form to better use than anything I have seen in a very long time, by telling the story of how the Trujillo dictatorship affected three generations of a Dominican family through the lens of the “brief wonderful life” of the story’s protagonist: an obese nerdtastic Dominican kid living in New Jersey. Throughout the book are footnotes explaining the historical details of the dictatorship, allowing the story to rumble along at the perfect pace and the heretofore uninformed reader to keep up.

Oh, and the footnotes compare Trujillo to Sauron from The Lord of the Rings. I really think that political theory writing should make use of iconic sci-fi/fantasy figures more often. The things that happen in our imaginations are, in every way that matters when reading about new ideas, far more “real” than the things that happen in the faraway corners of the planet (or islands within spitting distance of our coastline) that we have not thought about yet. Might as well take advantage of that.

Finally, the book is funny, even though it is about torture and rape and how dictatorships can casually crush a soul or two on the way to breakfast. All books should be funny. Especially those that are about torture, and rape, and the early-morning destruction of innocents.

Books like this are to the struggle against authoritarianism as clowns are to rodeos.

Congratulations Junot!