Fugitive Denim

Most garments carry labels with a single country but handprints from a multitude of nations, writes Rachel Louise Snyder. For her first book, the journalist traveled to a bunch of these nations to unravel the convoluted forces at work behind the production of a pair of jeans. Fugitive Denim -- which carries the arch but accurate subtitle A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade -- introduces readers to a cotton inspector in Azerbaijan, the struggling former Soviet republic that grows the crop but must send it elsewhere to be spun into thread; a denim designer in Italy, who worries about the relocation of his country?s manufacturing sector to Asia; a factory auditor in China, employed by the Gap to monitor overseas working conditions; and, most movingly, two female garment workers in Cambodia, a country that was offered a bigger piece of the U.S. textile market in exchange for working to eradicate sweatshops. Snyder is an amiable tour guide, elucidating the often dizzying contradictions of globalization with wry humor and compassion. And she manages to strike a hopeful tone (the book includes an admiring profile of Edun, the high-end and socially conscious fashion line backed by Bono), almost in spite of her stark portrayal of the environmental and human losses behind each pair of jeans. -

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangledeshi mathematician and the haunting crime he's committed barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and ravaged Afghanistan with vinegar-tinged prose recalling the best of George Orwell and Joseph Conrad.

The People's Platform

Why is the Internet - once touted as the democratizer of the future - ruled by a few corporate giants, while countless aspirants work for free? Astra Taylor diagnoses why the web has failed to be a utopian playing field, and offers compelling ways we can diversify the marketplace and give voice to the marginalized.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.