Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mark Bixler's The Lost Boys of Sudan

Bixler's 2005 book follows a group of Sudanese refugees in the Atlanta area from their arrival to 2004. These stories of resettlement and adjustment are interesting, but Bixler's historical work on the origins of the north-south conflict is concise and lucid, his detailed account of how the US state department came up with the idea of resettling almost 4,000 unaccompanied Sudanese minors is an account I have not read before, and his analysis of how the September 11 attacks functioned as a catalyst for the 2005 CPA in Sudan is fascinating. Former President Carter, I learned, was frustrated with President Clinton's aggressive (i.e. bombing) approach to Sudan, and it was only with the arrival of President Bush in the White House that--upon President Carter's prompting--the US began to play an active role in brokering peace between north and south Sudan.

Also interesting to read about the Valentino Deng and Dave Egger collaboration being written about in a round-about, slightly skeptical way, not naming any names, way.

Lost of other little gems. One story about a boy trying to pass his GED was fascinating. He struggled with literary interpretation, but when asked to do a "composition" about a movie he had seen, he wrote about Achebe's Things Fall Apart because he had only seen one movie. He ended up scoring better in composition than any other subject. A slight nod to the fact that good composition isn't about one's "English," which I suspect was shaky at best in this case. He presumably wrote about the book with authority, with a deep understanding of the colonial African experience, in such a way that the readers of the exam ignored the fact that he didn't follow the prompt, and probably wrote in non-standard ways. Good work, readers!

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