Call Them By Their True Names by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is an essayist I have been meaning to read for a while now, so when I saw she had a new collection coming out (4 September 2018) I was keen to check it out.

This really is a collection for our times, and the subject matter of the collection spans a diverse range of topics that touch on contemporary politics and social justice issues in a really meaningful way. I really enjoyed taking my time with this collection and allowing myself the space to digest Solnit’s discussions at my own pace.

For me, I was really drawn to part three of the collection, entitled American Edges. This covered really fascinating topics including the monument wars in the US South (the ‘celebrations’ of the Confederate experiences in the Civil War that echo and immortalize a racist white supremacist history), climate change as a form of violence, as well as the experiences of marginalized and minority people with the criminal justice system. Despite not being an American, I have studied US history extensively and still found myself learning so much for the first time in Solnit’s essays. Her perspective and choice of narratives to discuss was much more inclusive than the more white-washed histories of traditional textbooks and academic study.

I only wish I had someone to discuss this book with as it has left me with so many questions, and the urge to read so much more about specific topics (all signs of an effective essay collection!). I’m also going to dive into Solnit’s earlier essay collections – let me know in the comments if there is one you recommend starting with! If you’re keen to hear some of my thoughts while I was reading the collection, I recorded a reading vlog for my booktube channel here.

Thanks to Haymarket Books for sending me an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

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