If you’re familiar with the lyrics of Jimmy Cliff’s 1972 reggae classic “The Harder They Come,” then you won’t be surprised to learn that T.C. Boyle’s new novel of the same name includes protagonists who, like the tune’s singer, would “rather be a free man in my grave / than living as a puppet or a slave.” And if you’ve ever seen the film The Harder They Come, in which the song appears, then you’ll know where Boyle got the idea for a character who was close to his now-deceased grandmother and who decides to deal drugs as a way of making money and cultivating his outlaw status.
The winner of our 2014 Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans published the following op-ed in the Iowa City Press-Citizen on what it meant to win the contest. She, runner-up Brian Van Reet, and judge Anthony Swofford will read at Prairie Lights Bookstore this Saturday, April 18, at 7 p.m.
What Do We Owe Our Veterans?
My roommate ran into a friend of hers from their Duxbury, Mass., high school at a bar in Vail, Colo. He remembered that after high school, she had gone to the Naval Academy, and then on to serve in the Navy. She more or less remembered his name. As it turns out, he started a few startup companies, two or three of which flopped. His last one made him a multimillionaire.
PT: I am now an ex-pat American living in England and have been for almost twenty years, but hearing The Smiths still takes me back to an early, all-consuming, adolescent Anglophilia of the early '80s. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, a long psychic distance from The Smiths. My friends and I, hungry for new wave, post-punk, anything English, devoured everything that came through the one cool radio station. I remember discovering this amazing band, the Jam, who had this great new single called “Beat Surrender”; minutes later I realized that we’d missed the entire boat. We were constitutively behind the times.
The Human Rights Index is prepared three times a year by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights. The Iowa Review is proud to feature the Index on our website, to suggest the global political and socioeconomic context within which we read and write.
Human Rights Index #42
Prepared by The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR)*
Kerry Howley is the author of Thrown, a book-length essay recounting three years she spent following a pair of Midwestern mixed martial artists. A graduate of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa—where she was also the Provost’s Visiting Writer in Nonfiction in 2012 (and my colleague)—her work can be found in Harper’s, The Paris Review, The New York Times and Bookforum. Howley, who teaches creative writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, will head to Iowa City for Mission Creek.