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review 2017-07-26 01:51
The Amish Face the Technological Apocalypse with Grace
When the English Fall: A Novel - David Williams

I'll admit I was trepidatious about being assigned this novel to review at first. Much as the setup is catnip to me -- a fresh take on technological shutdown and societal collapse? Sign me up! -- I have a real thing about how the Amish are sometimes portrayed. They're sort of infantized and fetishized in a lot of contexts, like they're just these adorable weirdos who don't have electricity. Not to get too far into it, but any religious group who practices shunning is on my shit list, and that goes for Scientology as well. But! The Amish are no monolith, like any group, and embrace a number of societal ideals I find admirable, non violence being the main one. Anyway.


David Williams managed to sidestep all of my fears, and spin a compelling tale. His main character, Jacob, is not without faults, but his very active engagement with the rough realities of the technological failure of the English (that's us, to them) is deep and thoughtful. A very good book. 



My latest at B&N Sci-fi & Fantasy

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review 2017-07-14 17:12
When the English Fall: A Novel - David Williams

This was a very entertaining book which told of the apocalypse from an Amish view. The "English" are people who do not follow the Amish order. It dealt a lot with the Amish order and only mentioned what was going on with the "English". 

Written from Jacob's diaries, the story tells of Jacob's daughter having "spells" and repeating the phrase "The English are Falling". Suddenly, his daughter gets better, but doesn't stop talking about when "The English are Falling". When one night Jacob and his daughter are watching the skies and a plane drops out of the air, crashing miles away, his daughter says "And now it has begun". Cars stop on the road, the lights of Lancaster are not burning anymore and everywhere is eerie and pitch black.

The story tells of how the Amish are sending food and supplies to the local city and others things that the Amish do to help their fellow mankind. All is well until everyone finds out that this phenomenon is not going to be solved in a few days, it's here to stay.

The was a very entertaining debut by David Williams and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The ending led me to believe that there is more coming in this series, however, I could be wrong.

Thanks to Algonquin Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2016-03-08 00:00
The Fall of Language in the Age of English
The Fall of Language in the Age of English - Minae Mizumura,Mari Yoshihara,Juliet Winters Carpenter If you are at all interested in: translation studies, linguistics, the history of Japanese language, the history of English language imperialism, the long-lasting effect the USA had on the state of Japanese language as a consequence of English language imperialism, the history of the concept of national language, the ways in which language is politicized... read this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, learned a LOT from it, and while I read a library copy, I'm hopefully going to get my own copy to have on hand to use as reference.

The translation by Yoshihara and Winters-Carpenter is absolutely beautiful, and despite some very minor things (mainly Japanese as a noun when it should be the adjective of a noun ("a Japanese" instead of "a Japanese person")), the English text has none of the 'tells' of being a Japanese translation many other translators mess up on.

The last few pages (around 180~200) were uncomfortable in that Mizumura really injected her personal politics into the writing, when she could have written more neutrally on the subjects. I also disagree with her assertion that being able to speak a language is what makes someone Japanese, or any group that could be applied to. There's more to ethnic and national identities than understanding a language, especially when it comes to nations that have more than one local language (Especially considering Japan has more local languages than simply Japanese, albeit not as widely spoken.)

I do agree with her conclusions at the end about the importance of learning foreign language as mandatory education, and that native English speakers need to especially learn foreign languages, and recognize the immense privilege brought by being a native speaker of the most widely spoken, and most globally important, universal languge.
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