Best of the Year: Books

The Handsome Family

Muhammad Kamil al-Khatib’s Just Like A River (Arris Books, [NI 359]( got a five-star fiction rating. This superbly intricate narrative follows the lives of a cross-section of Damascus society against a background of escalating tension. The book’s 100 or so pages touch upon large themes while maintaining a sharp focus on the intimate human scale of events.

Also outstanding was A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali (Canongate, [NI 358](, a thoughtful first novel by Gil Courtemanche set in Rwanda in the days leading up to the 1994 genocide. Our reviewer says: ‘This is one that has stayed with me and that I have thought about time and again’. A moving and brave meditation on love and evil, it also serves as a scathing indictment of an inert ‘international community’.

In the non-fiction category, Paul Kingsnorth’s One No, Many Yeses (Verso, [NI 358]( got top marks for readability, scope and inspiration. A gripping, highly personable travelogue, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to get up to speed with the growing social justice movement.

Blood Diamonds by Greg Campbell (Westview Press, [NI 356]( is first-rate journalistic sleuthing, tracing the violence-soaked webs that link the legitimate diamond trade, shady dealers, rebels without a conscience, and organizations such as Hizbollah and al-Qaeda.

New Internationalist issue 364 magazine cover This article is from the February 2004 issue of New Internationalist.
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