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William Finnegan - book author

William Finnegan is a staff writer at The New Yorker. He has won several awards for his journalism and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for his work "Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life."

William Finnegan is the author of books: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, Climbing with Mollie, Cold New World: Growing Up in Harder Country, A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique, Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid, Dateline Soweto: Travels with Black South African Reporters, Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLU Cases, The Encyclopedia of Surfing, America - Numéro 2

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01
A deeply rendered self-portrait of a lifelong surfer by the acclaimed New Yorker writer

Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else entirely: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. Raised in California and Hawaii, Finnegan started surfing as a child. He has chased waves all over the world, wandering for years through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, Africa. A bookish boy, and then an excessively adventurous young man, he went on to become a distinguished writer and war reporter. Barbarian Days takes us deep into unfamiliar worlds, some of them right under our noses—off the coasts of New York and San Francisco. It immerses the reader in the edgy camaraderie of close male friendships annealed in challenging waves.

Finnegan shares stories of life in a whites-only gang in a tough school in Honolulu even while his closest friend was a Hawaiian surfer. He shows us a world turned upside down for kids and adults alike by the social upheavals of the 1960s. He details the intricacies of famous waves and his own apprenticeships to them. Youthful folly—he drops LSD while riding huge Honolua Bay, on Maui—is served up with rueful humor. He and a buddy, their knapsacks crammed with reef charts, bushwhack through Polynesia. They discover, while camping on an uninhabited island in Fiji, one of the world’s greatest waves. As Finnegan’s travels take him ever farther afield, he becomes an improbable anthropologist: unpicking the picturesque simplicity of a Samoan fishing village, dissecting the sexual politics of Tongan interactions with Americans and Japanese, navigating the Indonesian black market while nearly succumbing to malaria. Throughout, he surfs, carrying readers with him on rides of harrowing, unprecedented lucidity.

Barbarian Days is an old-school adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, a social history, a literary road movie, and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little understood art. Today, Finnegan’s surfing life is undiminished. Frantically juggling work and family, he chases his enchantment through Long Island ice storms and obscure corners of Madagascar.
02
2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning memoirist of Barbarian Days William Finnegan had devoted his days to chasing waves as a lifelong surfer. When his adolescent daughter, Mollie, proves to be a natural-born climber, Finnegan follows his newfound passion toward rock climbing. It’s an arduous apprenticeship, and it turns the parent-child dynamic on its head, as Mollie slips into the role of coach and mentor, while her father has to push his limits to keep pace.

Finnegan takes listeners deep into the world of climbing–indoors and out, from climbing gyms to rock faces in Central Park, Mexico and Canada. Mollie, a wry and gentle soul who had shown no previous interest in sports, grows into a ferociously gifted climber, and she leads the way. What begins as a hobby for the father-daughter duo becomes an obsession, as they start taking every opportunity to slip on their climbing shoes, chalk up their hands, and attack problems, climber-speak for routes. They learn a new language of specialized moves and rock types, they seek tougher climbs and forge new memories–not just muscle memories. Through it all, they add a new dimension to their relationship.

As he and Mollie start climbing outdoors, tackling harder and higher climbs, the endeavor increasingly takes on another aspect: danger, which climbers call exposure. Finnegan offers a candid and gripping look at risk, fear, and humility in the pursuit of a perilous hobby. While he navigates the boundaries of trust and adventure, as well as the far edge of his physical limits, he reminds listeners that to fall is to be human.

This Audible Original includes an additional interview Finnegan did with his daughter, Mollie, for the story.
03
New Yorker writer William Finnegan spent time with families in four communities across America and became an intimate observer of the lives he reveals in these beautifully rendered portraits: a fifteen-year-old drug dealer in blighted New Haven, Connecticut; a sleepy Texas town transformed by crack; Mexican American teenagers in Washington State, unable to relate to their immigrant parents and trying to find an identity in gangs; jobless young white supremacists in a downwardly mobile L.A. suburb. Important, powerful, and compassionate, Cold New World gives us an unforgettable look into a present that presages our future.

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Los Angeles Times Best Nonfiction of 1998 selection
One of the Voice Literary Supplement's Twenty-five Favorite Books of 1998
04
Powerful, instructive, and full of humanity, this book challenges the current understanding of the war that has turned Mozambique—a naturally rich country—into the world's poorest nation. Before going to Mozambique, William Finnegan saw the war, like so many foreign observers, through a South African lens, viewing the conflict as apartheid's "forward defense." This lens was shattered by what he witnessed and what he heard from Mozambicans, especially those who had lived with the bandidos armado, the "armed bandits" otherwise known as the Renamo rebels. The shifting, wrenching, ground-level stories that people told combine to form an account of the war more local and nuanced, more complex, more African—than anything that has been politically convenient to describe.

A Complicated War combines frontline reporting, personal narrative, political analysis, and comparative scholarship to present a picture of a Mozambique harrowed by profound local conflicts—ethnic, religious, political and personal. Finnegan writes that South Africa's domination and destabilization are basic elements of Mozambique's plight, but he offers a subtle description and analysis that will allow us to see the post-apartheid region from a new, more realistic, if less comfortable, point of view.
05
The award-winning debut by the acclaimed author of Cold New World,
Named by The New York Times Book Review as a top ten nonfiction book of 1986, this seminal piece of cross-cultural journalism is an account of a white American's experience teaching black students in South Africa--an account essential for its incisive coverage of the student anti-apartheid movement, as well as for the unpretentious charms of its prose.
06
Dateline Soweto documents the working lives of black South African reporters caught between the mistrust of militant blacks, police harrassment, and white editors who—fearing government disapproval—may not print the stories these reporters risk their lives to get. William Finnegan revisited several of these reporters during the May 1994 election and describes their post-apartheid working experience in a new preface and epilogue.
07
A unique collaboration between the American Civil Liberties Union and authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, Fight of the Century features original essays by the most influential writers at work today—including Jennifer Egan, Neil Gaiman, Marlon James, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Salman Rushdie, Jesmyn Ward, and more—each writing about a landmark ACLU case, published in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the organization.

The American Civil Liberties Union began as a small group of idealists and visionaries, including Helen Keller and Jane Addams. A century after its founding, the ACLU remains the nation’s premier defender of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.

In collaboration with the ACLU, prizewinning authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman have curated an anthology of essays about landmark cases in the ACLU’s 100-year history. In Fight of the Century, bestselling and award-winning authors present unique literary takes on historic decisions like Brown v. Board of Education, the Scopes trial, Roe v. Wade, and more. Contributors include Geraldine Brooks, Michael Cunningham, Jennifer Egan, Dave Eggers, Louise Erdrich, Neil Gaiman, Lauren Groff, Marlon James, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Morgan Parker, Ann Patchett, Salman Rushdie, George Saunders, Elizabeth Strout, Jesmyn Ward, Meg Wolitzer, and more.

Fight of the Century shows how throughout American history, pivotal legal battles, fought primarily by underdogs and their lawyers, have advanced civil rights and social justice. The ACLU has been integral in this process. The essays range from personal memoir to narrative history, each shedding light on the work of one remarkable organization as it shaped a country.

Chabon and Waldman are donating their advance and any subsequent proceeds connected to the book to the ACLU, and the contributors are forgoing payment.
08
Now in paperback and updated to include forty new entries, this "leviathan of surf literature" (Surfing magazine) is a remarkable collection of expert knowledge, spine-tingling stories, and little-known trivia. With 1,500 alphabetical entries and 300 illustrations, The Encyclopedia of Surfing is the most comprehensive review of the people, places, events, equipment, vernacular, and lively history of this fascinating sport by "one of surfing's most knowledgeable historians" (San Francisco Chronicle).

Each year, the surf industry brings in $4.5 billion, and more than two-and-a-half million Americans, from California to Delaware, have caught the wave. The Encyclopedia of Surfing is a book that no surfer-or armchair adventurer-will be able to resist.
09
Chaque trimestre, America racontera l'Amérique au temps de Donald Trump, à travers des reportages et des enquêtes, des grands entretiens et des chroniques signés par les meilleurs écrivains Français et Américains.

Dans ce second numéro, nous avons réservé aux lecteurs :

- une interview de Salman Rushdie

- un entretien exclusif avec Don DeLillo

- les 10 must read de l'été, dont Jours barbares de William Finnegan et le roman Dans la forêt de Jean Hegland pour la première fois traduit en français.

- des reportages (Joël Dicker - Yellowstone), des enquêtes, des chroniques, des nouvelles (Dans la tête de Melania Trump par Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), des extraits littéraires exclusifs (Martin Eden - Jack London).

AMERICA, L'AMÉRIQUE COMME VOUS NE L'AVEZ JAMAIS LUE.