Briefing Books: 'Colored Cosmopolitanism' shows how two liberation movements converged

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The world-weary prophet who composed the book of Ecclesiastes said it true: "Be warned, my son, for writing books is endless, and much [reading] is a weariness of the flesh." Local writers aren't taking Ecclesiastes 12:12 seriously, though. If you've published a book in the last year, send a copy to: Tony Norman, Book Editor, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd of the Allies. Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Please, no cookbooks, dream diaries, fake biographies or novels-in-progress. All genres are welcome. Include an Internet address.

"Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India" by Nico Slate (Harvard University Press). One of the most fascinating releases of 2012 was "Colored Cosmopolitanism," Nico Slate's exhaustive history of the ties between the American civil rights movement and India's inexorable march toward democracy from the 19th century through the 1960s. Mr. Slate is assistant professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University and appears to have assimilated every scrap of information about the liberation movements in both countries. He writes with authority about obscure and forgotten figures and events. The dialogue between African-Americans and South Asians chronicled in "Colored Cosmopolitanism" is one of the great untold stories of the 20th century. >

"Amidst Traffic" by Michel Sauret (One Way Street). Writer Michel Sauret, a former PG photography intern, served as a public affairs specialist and journalist for the U.S. Army. But his first love appears to be short stories about broken people slouching toward some form of redemption. Mr. Sauret's characters are chatty, obsessed, violent, familiar and ghost-haunted. When they find hope, they are relieved to discover that it isn't just another four-letter word. >

"In Self Defense" by Sam Nicotero (SAME Books). This is riveting true story of Willy Wetzel, an Indonesian martial artist who immigrated to Beaver County with his family in 1956. Willy opened one of the nation's first martial arts schools and taught his son, Roy, everything he knew. When Roy came back from Vietnam many years later, father and son couldn't reconnect. One night, their mutual brooding led to an argument. Father and son found themselves in a no-holds barred fight to the death. After the bloody conflict, Roy was put on trial for murder, a strange saga that Pittsburgh-based writer/actor Sam Nicotero documents. Some old-timers may even remember this story. This is the tale of one of the region's oddest "trials of the century." > On Kindle from

"Hammurabi's Dagger"by Jay P. Cooper (Sea King Press). Jay P. Cooper has written a book about time travel, the "traitor" Flavius Josephus and Hammurabi, the Babylonian emperor. It incorporates Jewish history, archeology, science fiction, a "time" detective and a shadowy assassins cult. This is a novel full of hallucinations that stick with you. Mr. Cooper writes like a disciple of Dan Brown weighing each scene for its symbolic value. Here, the 86-year-old scribe who now lives in California is determined to write his own version of "The Da Vinci Code" with the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh as it was in 1955 as a backdrop. > or

"The Last Perfect Summer" by Ed Prence (Windy City). This is a novel about baseball and nostalgia for 1960s-era Western Pennsylvania. It is about the quality of life children once took for granted growing up in a thriving steel town when pursuing a dream was effortless. What happens when a dream dies before the body gives up? Looking back on their perfect summer decades earlier when they were the lords of baseball, old friends Harry and Ted revisit their greatest triumphs, sifting for lessons among their memories capable of sustaining the middle-aged versions of themselves. >

"Orange Fire" (Main Street Rag) and "The Blue Heart" (Finishing Line Press) by Judith R. Robinson. Lifelong Pittsburgher Judith Robinson is one of those poets who doubles as a humanitarian and expert promoter and compiler of other poets' work. When she's not saving the world and editing award-winning poetry anthologies, she's composing her own ineffable poetry. Ms. Robinson's latest is a long-awaited book of new poems and a 28-page chapbook exploring the Holocaust. > and

Poet Jan Beatty holds forth

Jan Beatty is back with "The Switching Yard," her fourth collection in the Pitt Poetry Series from University of Pittsburgh Press. Director of creative writing at Carlow University and host of "Prosody" on WESA-FM, she will deliver a free public lecture for Women's History Month at Duquesne University: "Undressing in Public: Gender and Poetry" (Duquesne Union, March 14, 7 p.m.). She's also holding a book party on March 22 at WYEP, 67 Bedford Square, South Side, 7 p.m.; reading at 7:30 p.m. >


Tony Norman: or 412-263-1631.


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