New Internationalist

The Best of 2007

January 2008

The best music, books and films from 2007

Music

Nominating the year’s best album never gets easier, however much you practise, so with that caveat in mind, let’s just put Grinderman’s self-titled début album (reviewed in NI 399) and David Gunn and Victor Gama’s Folk Songs for the Five Points (Lower East Side Tenement Museum, NI 400) at the top of the pile. Both albums were wildly different. Grinderman (Mute) found Nick Cave and a handful of his noisiest Bad Seeds in rude, rambunctious health; Folk Songs, on the other hand, was as much composition as a delicate meditation on memory and diaspora. (Try your own hand at reordering Gunn and Gama’s material on their interactive site: www.folksongsproject.com)

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba’s Segu Blue (OH, NI 400), a virtuoso album for the West African lutist, had a spacious feel that’s like the vaults of heaven. And for pop on the edges, the mournful electronics and fuzzy beats of CocoRosie’s The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn (Touch and Go, NI 402) still delight.

Louise Gray

Books

Far and away the best-written and most thought-provoking non-fiction title was Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine (Allen Lane, NI 406). She gets to the heart of the matter in a way that makes other political commentaries look weak and evasive. Best fictional works were Bahia Blues, a remarkable début novel by Lebanese-Brazilian Yasmina Traboulsi, set in a provincial Salvador de Bahia square and the hyper-violent favelas of Rio (Arcadia, NI 405), and The Uncomfortable Dead, a unique detective story, written in alternate chapters by Subcomandante Marcos and Mexican crime-writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II (Serpent’s Tail, NI 398). My Father’s Notebook, from Iran via Holland, by Kader Abdolah (Canongate, NI 401) was a close runner-up.

Peter Whittaker

Films


Some of the year’s best films were documentaries. Jesus Camp (NI 407) was about militant conservative evangelists in the US. A Crude Awakening (NI 406) suggested we’re near to peak oil production and asked whether the US Government would try to change energy use, or wage wars to control diminishing fuel. Beyond Hatred (NI 399) probed beyond the immediate circumstances of a hate murder in Rheims. Nick Broomfield’s forceful – but never forced – docudrama Ghosts (NI 397) told the story of exploitation of illegal workers in Britain. In terms of fiction, Deepa Mehta’s Water (NI 401), focusing on a young child bride sent to live in a ‘house of widows’ on the Ganges, was at once beautiful, hard-edged and deeply moving.

Malcolm Lewis

This column was published in the January 2008 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 408

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