Just Mercy

This morning I finished reading JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson of the US-based Equal Justice Initiative. It’s a book that enlarges the reader, for sure. I didn’t know there were so many ways for my heart to break. Part of me wants to buy a copy for every school library in Singapore.

It’s not that I didn’t know, before, how dreadful the death penalty and the US penal system are, or how awful race relations are in that strange and yet strangely familiar land. I used to work at a prison reform organisation, so many of the issues are not new to me (something which made it hard for me to fully appreciate, say, THE NEW JIM CROW as a fresher reader might). But in the warmth of Stevenson’s stories, the directness of their no-nonsense telling, rather than academic or forensic education there is… transformative human connection. I’m botching this sell. Just read it yourself.

(I actually had the opportunity to very briefly meet Stevenson in the outfit I used to work for. I had at the time only a much sketchier concept of why he matters so much. I wish I’d been more informed of what a great honour I was enjoying.)

Ends

Enormously flattered that ACE has been chosen by Jeremy Tiang as one of his two picks for My Book of the Year. Thank you, Jeremy!

The last month has been illness, on and off. And reading, of course: revisiting Are You My Mother? (I liked it better this time, knowing in advance it would be more abstractly intellectual, less of a sucker punch of passion than Fun Home); tumbling through House of Leaves (my feelings are broadly similar to those in this Guardian review); now alternating between Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Marjane Satrapi’s Embroideries.

Oh yes and I will be speaking at an AWARE Roundtable on gender and writing on 7 January! Honoured to be sharing the panel with Tania de Rozario, Stephanie Dogfoot and Verena Tay. Do come!