Five years ago the Middle East and North Africa was electrified by unprecedented popular protests that heralded the start of the Arab Spring. Beginning in Tunisia popular movements swept regimes from power in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and threatened to overthrow ruling elites across the region. Tragically, the Arab Spring has since become mired in counterrevolution and civil war with the extraordinary violence of the war in Syria, the rise of ISIS, the escalating refugee crisis, and the establishment of a new dictatorship in Egypt emblematic of the profound challenges facing the people of the region. As tumultuous events continue to unfold we present Verso's reading list of key titles addressing the developing situation in the Middle East.
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein (Europa Editions, 2015); My Brilliant Friend (2012); The Story of a New Name (2013); Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014).
Several of us in the Verso team received our diagnosis this summer from a certified medical doctor who scrutinized our exhausted faces, distracted eyes and dramatic swings of emotion: “I’m sorry. You have come down with a severe case of Ferrante fever. The worst will pass but the hunger will never fade.” This fever of addiction stole sleep, stoked obsession and caused dangerous and foolish behaviour, such as crossing the road whilst reading—but it also brought new and old friends together in a happy haze of intoxication. Thus, here are some snippets from my brilliant friends that illustrate our year of reading Ferrante:
This morning, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis announced his resignation on his blog. This is despite the "no" vote in the country's referendum on austerity measures, a result which Varoufakis calls "splendid". Varoufakis said he "was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted 'partners', for my... 'absence' from its meetings", and so he's resigning to help Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reach a deal. He said he would "wear the creditors' loathing with pride".
Varoufakis's anti-austerity ideas are spelled out in his book The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy, published by our comrades at Zed Books. Below is the foreword, , to that book by Paul Mason, economics editor for Channel 4 News and author of Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed.
The banks are closed, the bailout referendum is looming: Paul Mason describes the atmosphere in Greece as it prepares for the vote which will determine the triumph or defeat of the only anti-austerity government in Europe.
As Mason puts it:
If it all ends on Monday, with the Greeks voting for austerity in order to keep the euro, the first far-left party to hold office in modern Europe will be judged by its critics a failure ... If they win, on the other hand, they will be seen as heroes by opponents of austerity across Europe.
Monday 29 June. Visit the Guardian to read the article in full.