A few months ago I listened to the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books podcast, Academic in Death which featured Dr. Kecia Ali, Professor of Religion at Boston University, as she talked about her book Human in Death. Being a big fan of the In Death series by J.D. Robb, I couldn’t resist buying the book and giving it a try even though I don’t typically read non-fiction. But I’m glad I took the chance because I really enjoyed it, especially the chance it gave me to look back on some of the books in this extensive series.
Now that I’ve finished I want to share the love, so I’m giving away my hardcover copy of Human in Death to one random person. You can enter your name and email address and I’ll randomly select a winner on March 28. Please note, the winner will be contacted via email and will have 5 days to respond with a mailing address.
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Kecia Ali’s Human in Death explores the best-selling futuristic suspense series In Death, written by romance legend Nora Roberts under the pseudonym J. D. Robb. Centering on troubled NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire tycoon husband Roarke, the novels explore vital questions about human flourishing.
Through close readings of more than fifty novels and novellas published over two decades, Ali analyzes the ethical world of Robb’s New York circa 2060. Robb compellingly depicts egalitarian relationships, satisfying work, friendships built on trust, and an array of models of femininity and family. At the same time, the series’ imagined future replicates some of the least admirable aspects of contemporary society. Sexual violence, police brutality, structural poverty and racism, and government surveillance persist in Robb’s fictional universe, raising urgent moral challenges. So do ordinary ethical quandaries around trust, intimacy, and interdependence in marriage, family, and friendship.
Ali celebrates the series’ ethical successes, while questioning its critical moral omissions. She probes the limits of Robb’s imagined world and tests its possibilities for fostering identity, meaning, and mattering of human relationships across social difference. Ali capitalizes on Robb’s futuristic fiction to reveal how careful and critical reading is an ethical act.
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About Kecia Ali:
From Author’s Website: I’m a scholar of religion, gender, and ethics. I mostly write about the Muslim tradition, with an emphasis on law and biography. I also analyze modern intersections of Muslim and Western discourses about gender and sexuality. My newest book is something of a departure, using popular fiction to discuss gender and ethics. Human in Death explores J.D. Robb’s futuristic police procedurals, analyzing their largely compelling model of human flourishing as well as their critical silences and omissions. I’m currently working on Women in Muslim Traditions, geared toward students and general readers, as well as a specialized study of consent, captivity, and concubinage in early Islamic law.
I’ve been a faculty member at Boston University’s Department of Religion since 2006. Before that, I held research and teaching fellowships at Brandeis University and Harvard Divinity School. I teach undergraduates and graduate students.
I earned my MA and PhD in Religion from Duke University. I attended Stanford University as an undergraduate, finishing with a BA in History and honors in Feminist Studies.
For well over a decade, I’ve been active in the American Academy of Religion, where I’ve held a number of service and leadership roles. I’m currently serving as Status Committee Director. I’m a past president of the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics.
I’m originally from the Boston area. Outside of my professional activities, I read widely—including a lot of genre fiction—and paint colorful abstract acrylics. I’ve been involved with Oxfam America since 2010 and have served on its Leadership Council since 2013.