Friday, October 24, 2014

humor is such a genius thing to do. . .

at least according to this interview excerpt from Nayomi Munaweera: "I actually don’t feel like I can do humor very well because humor is such a genius thing to do."

Also in The Rumpus interview of Munaweera by Soniah Kamal, when I read the part about her family fleeing Nigeria when all Asians were forced out of the country, I thought of these words from Bharati Mukherjee's "A Wife's Story," what I'd been teaching just last week, "Idi Amin's lesson is permanent," and the pessimistic implications of the words. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mo Yan

I was browsing Mo Yan novels in the Greenville Public Library, and I came across his interesting choice for a prefatory quotation to The Garlic Ballads:

Novelists are forever trying to distance themselves from politics, but the novel itself closes in on politics. Novelists are so concerned with "man's fate" that they tend to lose sight of their own fate. Therein lies their tragedy. 

~Josef Stalin

I don't think that it invariably requires a Nobel Prize in Literature to sell translated books in the states, but I do know Mo Yan won one in 2012. The books I was looking at in the library appeared worn, to an extent, so I'm guessing that they were on the shelf before that.

As you may know, Mo Yan is a pen name that means "don't speak," and if you follow the link to from his name above, you'll see that there was some controversy over his win in light of both his ties to Chinese authorities as well as his Swedish translator's connection to the Nobel committee. I haven't read his writing.


"Weekends, he explained, "are a luxury the bottom 30 percent can't afford."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jack Kerouac was a student in my class

I dreamed Jack Kerouac was a student in my class. He was a prankster, a disruptive young man although in the dream he appeared about my age, an adult Kerouac, not the drunk, bloated one from his last years, but rather the nimble healthy one from his writing and "roading" days. In the dream, Jack stole my glasses and my "dumb" phone, two essential items for my classroom survival, and I was aware of this, and at one point I was chasing him around the desks. I was angry at Jack. I couldn't catch up, or I couldn't find him. I felt frustrated, overwhelmed by "students these days" or at least this one in particular. Toward the end of the dream, he returned the items and acted like it was all in good fun. No big deal to swipe Old Man Kudera's spectacles and run around the room. Anyway, I woke up before I could reprimand or report his shenanigans to campus authorities. Alas. In a way, it's an embarrassing dream, but nevertheless, I share it with you.