Sally Kincaid

The President's Gardens

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On the third day of Ramadan 2006, nine decapitated heads are delivered in banana boxes to an Iraqi village. One of the heads belongs to Ibrahim, a quiet, gentle, humble soul. The President’s Gardens unravels through a story involving three generations under the backdrop of the invasion of Kuwait, the first Gulf War and the lead up to the US invasion.

The book intertwines the life-long friendship between Ibrahim the Fated, Abdullah Katfa and Tariq the Befuddle known collectively as the sons of the earth crack.

The Liar's Quartet

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Sitting in the shadows of the fairly new Trinity Shopping Centre near the now closed Conservative Club, there is a Red Shed, also known as Wakefield Labour Club.

Having miraculously survived various redevelopments in the city centre the Red Shed celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The Red Shed is the political origin of comedian Mark Thomas’s activism, so to celebrate its birthday he put on a show and took The Red Shed on tour.

The Liars Quartet collects the scripts of The Red Shed and his previous shows, Cuckooed and Bravo Figaro!

China on Strike

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Anyone who is feeling a little demoralised and frustrated by the lack of strikes in the UK should add this book to their Christmas list, and then make sure they take some time out to read it.

Everyone knows about the booming Chinese economy, and many people know about the horrendous working conditions of those who have migrated from the countryside to the cities. There are two responses to alienating working conditions. One is the individual response which at best is walking out and at worst committing suicide.

China and the 21st Century Crisis

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Last summer I witnessed the symptoms of the slowdown in the Chinese economy: huge building projects in the city of Chongqing with few working on site; the subway system in Lijiang, which also seemed to have been mothballed.

So I jumped at the chance to review this book, even though I expected to have political disagreements with the author because he is a Maoist.

Ghost Cities of China

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I would recommend to anyone who wants a short, accessible read about the effects of Chinese economic development to ask their local library, if there is one left, to order Ghost Cities of China. For anyone who has visited China beyond the usual tourist destinations and wonders why a large railway station has been built in the middle of a desert, or where the roads with no cars go to, or whether anyone will ever live in the multiplying tower blocks, Wade Shepard’s book provides some answers.

Teach-in

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It amazes me that the shadow secretary of state for education can take trips to South East Asia and come back having learnt the wrong lessons. Tristram Hunt visited Singapore recently and returned saying that if teachers were made to swear an oath “about continuing to learn and to pass on the love of learning” then suddenly the status of teachers would improve.

The People's Republic of Amnesia

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In the days and weeks leading up to the first week of June this year, Chinese internet censors were at their busiest, blocking any words or numbers which had any reference to 4 June 1989.

The attempt to wipe any discussion of the anniversary of Tiananmen does at times become surreal. Two years ago the censors tried to block references to the fact that the Shanghai stock exchange had fallen by 64.89 points because it sounded like 4 June 1989.

Invisible

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Hsiao-Hung Pai

While the ConDems and New Labour fall over themselves to outdo Ukips attack on immigrant workers, Hsiao-Hung Pai goes under cover to work as a housekeeper in a number of brothels and exposes the reality of the lives of the people the Tories want to scapegoat.

Scattered Sand

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Hsiao-Hung Pai

When we interviewed her for last month's Socialist Review, Hsiao-Hung Pai asked why would anyone be interested in a travelogue, but she should not be so modest, since describing this excellent book as a travelogue is a bit like calling the M62 the Oldham bypass.

China's scattered migrants

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China's booming economy has been built on the back of migrant workers. Hsiao-Hung Pai talked to Sally Kincaid and Charlie Hore about her new book and the lives of China's migrant population

Why did you choose the title Scattered Sand for your book?

The idea of Scattered Sand came originally from Sun Yatsen, the founding father of the Guomindang (Nationalist) Party - so it came from the Republican Revolution of 1911. The idea was when he was talking about the Chinese people as being scattered sands - not united as a nation against Western imperialism.

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