Novel CITY OF BRASS on multicolored fabric

23. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Magical listeners! We’re taking a break from YA this fortnight to bring you an episode about the incredible fantasy novel The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. The show notes happen to be long this time — why not research-it-up and check out the links to learn some stuff?

About magic, fiction, history, religion, language:

  • The author has curated a reading list of narrative sources, primary sources, and folktales about the “early Islamic world” (a very broad term) for those who are interested in learning more.
  • Book 2 of the Daevabad trilogy, The Kingdom of Copper, came out in January 2019 (we can’t wait to read it!). The Empire of Gold, the series’ final installment, is scheduled for release in January 2020.
  • Chakraborty did an excellent interview on the podcast 88 Cups of Tea with Yin Chang. During the interview, Chakraborty specifically addresses being white and writing about the Islamic World. Definitely worth a listen.
  • Is your memory of the Book of Genesis a bit rusty? Refresh your memory about the Tower of Babel story.
  • More info on ifrits, carpets (magical and otherwise), and djinn.
  • On Judaism (religion? race? nation? culture? ethnicity?). On the term “Muslim” as religion or ethnicity.
  • A very helpful review of Enzo Traverso’s book Fire and Blood: The European Civil War, 1914-1945. Key terms include: “European Civil War”, “hot” vs. “cold violence”, and “technological responsibility”. Traverso actually came out with a new book in 2019 on a related topic (The New Faces of Fascism: Populism and the Far Right), but we haven’t read it yet.
  • Modesty fashion is on the rise. Here is a quick overview and some links to fabulous modesty fashion bloggers.
  • Arabic does indeed have gender for nouns (masculine and feminine options only). More details for language nerds here.
  • K isn’t the only one who finds Poe Dameron annoying. See this reddit thread: “Wow, people are really mad at Poe Dameron”.
  • Much, much more on the Black Panther Party’s history, tactics, and ideologies here and here.
  • We mention “breaking the wheel” a few times over the course of this episode, so here’s a gif for good measure
Related image

About contemporary politics:

  • This episode of Pod Save America mentions Joe Biden’s bs about hyping up his work with segregationists. Bonus: the show notes have a ton of links to articles about a range of important contemporary issues such as immigration, the 2020 Presidential race, and escalating tensions with Iran. Find the first debate recap episode here.
  • This video and article from The Root provides a helpful explanation of redlining, the practice of denying services to individuals and communities and a hallmark of institutional racism.
  • SCOTUS just released a troubling ruling on partisan gerrymandering. Here is the PDF of the entire decision, and Justice Kagan’s dissenting opinion begins on page 40. Donating to the F•ck Gerry(mandering) fund is one way to help.
  • K highly recommends the NPR podcast White Lies about the unsolved murder of a white Civil Rights activist in the 1960s.

About random things:

  • Cuddle parties are a real thing. Here’s a recap of someone’s experience at one.

Transcript to come Spring 2021

As always, we’d love to be in discussion with you, magical folx. Post or tweet about the show using #criticallyreading. Let us know what you think of the episode, anything we missed, or anything else you want us to know by dropping a line in the comments or reaching out to us on twitter or Instagram (@thelibrarycoven), or via email ( You can also check out the show notes on our website,

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The podcast theme song is “Unermerry Academy of Magics” by Augustin C from the album “Fantasy Music”, which you can download on

JK, it’s magic is recorded and produced on stolen indigenous land: Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and Ute (Kelly) and Chickasha, Kaskaskia, Kickapoo, Mascoutin, Miami, Mesquaki, Odawa, Ojibwe, Peankashaw, Peoria, Potawatomi, Sauk, and Wea (Jessie)

You can support Indigenous communities by donating to Mitakuye FoundationNative Women’s Wilderness, or the Navajo Water Project. These suggested places came from @lilnativeboy