June Nonfiction Book Club: “Unnatural Selection” by Mara Hvistendahl

I’ve enjoyed the first few months of leading the Nonfiction Book Group at Arlington’s One More Page Books & More. So far we’ve read and chatted about Boomerang: Travels in the Third World by Michael Lewis; Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain; and Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by
Barbara Ehrenreich.

Our selection for June is Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl. Here’s more on the book:

Unnatural Selection

Lianyungang, a booming port city, has China’s most extreme gender ratio for children under four: 163 boys for every 100 girls. These numbers don’t seem terribly grim, but in ten years, the skewed sex ratio will pose a colossal challenge. By the time those children reach adulthood, their generation will have twenty-four million more men than women.

The prognosis for China’s neighbors is no less bleak: Asia now has 163 million females “missing” from its population. Gender imbalance reaches far beyond Asia, affecting Georgia, Eastern Europe, and cities in the U.S. where there are significant immigrant populations. The world, therefore, is becoming increasingly male, and this mismatch is likely to create profound social upheaval.

Historically, eras in which there have been an excess of men have produced periods of violent conflict and instability. Mara Hvistendahl has written a stunning, impeccably-researched book that does not flinch from examining not only the consequences of the misbegotten policies of sex selection but Western complicity with them.

Unnatural Selection was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and it was named “Best Book of 2011” by the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Discover Magazine. Unmoved by those accolades? Check out Jack’s glowing review of the book; he says it was the best book he read last year.

Join us on Monday, June 10, at 7 pm to discuss the book. I encourage you to drop by even if you haven’t finished the book. The joy of reading nonfiction is that the discussion tends to range our current cultural and political terrain, and anyone can join in. I hope to see you there!

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