Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Freedom: Short Stories Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Amnesty International)

Released by Amnesty International, Freedom would be a good book for those looking to be exposed to the content of, and injustices against, the universal declaration of human rights (UDHR), in the form of short fiction from the viewpoint of a diversity of writers, each of whom takes one of the 30 articles of the UDHR as inspiration. Alternatively, if you already have exposure to such injustices, you may find this work unnecessarily depressing. It probably depends on what you are seeking.
Personally, I did like the diversity of styles and approaches, especially the ones that examined an article tangentially where the reader had to infer more what was happening in the situation. Freedom also helped familiarize the UDHR… but I cannot say I enjoyed this book. I realize that one is probably not supposed to ‘enjoy’ it, as the likely purpose was to inform, educate, humanize the suffering of others and have the reader identify with them or be outraged at their circumstances. As I think about the suffering of the world a little too often each day, it didn’t do me much good to be reminded of it while reading fiction (and I’m even having trouble getting into light fiction).
Additionally, I only found about half of the stories to be worthwhile, with probably only 25% being well-written (as defined that I would actually suggest others read them). Further, because it was an anthology, it was as if I was in a variable reinforcement experiment where I wouldn’t know if the next story would be better or worse than the last, or if it end up frustrating and saddening me. Usually, after reading something good one would want to read more, but in this case sometimes the next one wouldn’t be as good, so then I wouldn’t want to read more in either case.
All in all, best for neophytes or those looking to explore and learn from the suffering of the world.


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