Summer Reads 2022

June 21, 2022

The three books discussed in the list below displayed on the face of an upright solar panel

John Zerzan
When We Are Human: Notes from the Age of Pandemics
Feral House, 2021

This collection of essays by John Zerzan takes stock of the dizzying array of calamities piling up along the roadside of the twenty-first century and places them into a broader context of civilizational disorder and collapse. Drawing from a variety of disciplines, Zerzan’s narrative arc in this collection takes the reader on a journey from humanity’s egalitarian past as nomadic hunter-gatherers up to our troubled present as architects of the world’s sixth mass extinction event. Fueled by brisk but powerfully crafted prose, When We Are Human is a heartfelt call for a return to the natural world that made us who we are.

Naoki Urasawa
Trans. John Werry
Viz Media, 2021–present

Masterfully dodging most of the genre restraints that allow other manga to be lumped into neat categories, Naoki Urasawa goes back to the well here with the career-spanning qualities that characterize such masterpieces as Monster and Twentieth-Century Boys: a narrative that spans decades, tying into pivotal moments in Japanese and world history, and driven by an emotionally transparent central character that has the reader rooting for her success from the first page. With four volumes available in English and more on the horizon, Asadora! is the perfect introduction to Urasawa’s singular approach to graphic narrative as well as a much-needed addition to his work available to anglophone audiences.

Charif Majdalani
Beirut 2020: Diary of the Collapse
Trans. Ruth Diver
Other Press, 2021

This slim collection offers invaluable insights into the morass of challenges facing the Lebanese people. Majdalani’s succinct introduction explains the eccentricities of Lebanon’s political system, once the envy of the Arab world, before setting off on a two-month journey navigating the challenges of daily life in a collapsed economy. Equal parts informative, humorous, and heartbreaking, Diary of the Collapse puts a human face on an intractable situation that has all but fallen off of the world news radar.

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Rob Vollmar is WLT’s book review and online editor.