Required Reading: Human Rights Fiction and Non-Fiction

Amnesty International is celebrating its 50th anniversary with Freedom, an anthology of short stories that are each cleverly paired with one of the 30 rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Featuring contributions by prominent authors like Paulo Coelho, Joyce Carol Oates, Yann Martel, and Nadine Gordimer, the collection presents mixed interpretations of contemporary issues in global justice while drawing attention to Amnesty’s hard-fought work. Freedom offers an enticing and eminently readable primer on a range of contemporary human rights issues that many people might otherwise ignore or overlook, but we also recommend the following ten non-fiction titles to complement their fictional counterparts with a deeper look at specific UDHR issues.

ARTICLE 7: “Equal Protection and Freedom from Discrimination”

World on Fire by Amy Chua

“The Trial,” Walter Mosley’s short story for Freedom, is the unsettling tale of a housing project that assembles its own ad hoc tribunals in response to the indifference of local law enforcement. But Amy Chua interrogates this implied subtext with a searing examination of inequality, discrimination, and incitement in World on Fire. She argues that the simultaneous injection of free market capitalism and democracy in countries with pre-existing socioeconomic disparities creates a volatile blend of resentment and empowerment among the lower social strata, which frequently results in the violent persecution of wealthy minorities. Chua recently provoked a firestorm with her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, but her thesis in World on Fire is no less incendiary.