ON BOOKS: Conquering a Hill
It’s done! Round of applause please! I have finally managed to complete Cirilo Villaverde’s novel ‘Cecilia Valdes’ or ‘El Angel Hill’(1882), described as arguably ‘the most important novel of 19th century Cuba’. It is also considered to be one of the last Cuban abolitionist novels that recounts a story of the moral, political, and sexual depravity caused by slavery and colonialism in which the heroine of the novel, the beautiful light-skinned mulatta named Cecilia, is being pursued by Leonardo the son of a Spanish slave trader.
Hand on heart I can easily say that I would probably pass a test on 1830s Cuba now for the descriptive passages that were longer, way longer, than the story itself, a tendency prevalent in most Latin American writings. All characters in the novel are real historical figures except for the main protagonists. Out of all this year’s books, this has been the most challenging to stick with but in the end I sat, I read, and I conquered :)
Cirilo Villaverde was born in Cuba in 1812. In 1848 he was imprisoned for his role in an Anti-colonial conspiracy. In 1849 he escaped and eventually settled in New York City, where he continued his political activism against the Colonial Regime in Cuba. Cecilia Valdes is his best-known work and has been translated into many languages, including Russian and Chinese. Villaverde died in exile in 1894. Recommended for those with an interest in Latin American literature and history.
NEWS: International Literacy Day Turns 50
Thursday (Sept. 8) marked the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day and UNESCO is celebrating it under the banner “Reading the Past, Writing the Future”. Many actors have shown support for the 2016 campaign. Chris Whitaker, UNESCO's Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation took to YouTube to talk about ‘the transformative powers of literacy in Sudan while urging the world community to commit to ensuring that by 2030 every man, woman and child would be able to write their own future.
Speaking of empowerment as well as coinciding with International Literacy Day, Emma Watson’s book club, 'Our Shared Shelf', is currently reading ‘Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’ by the husband-wife team Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. HERE she poses her questions to the authors who talk about charity work in Somaliland, combatting human trafficking, ISIS and the failings of the American education system with consequences worldwide.
ON WRITING: The Ethics Of Writing About Your Children
Here’s an interesting article that appears on today’s Lithub.com. Four writers get together to talk about how they deal with the thorny task of writing about their children. It’s a very insightful read and will strike a chord with those of us in the habit of posting a thing or two about our children on social media or are in the throes of writing a book that revolves around them. The writers discuss some of the reasons behind why parents might allow themselves licence to do that.
As Elizabeth Stone says, “Making the decision to have a child . . . is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” If you’re a writer, it’s hard to endure such a life shift without processing it through language. Our children create in us entirely new identities, which are rattling and sometimes, if we’re lucky, redeeming. How can we not write about this?...
And the best line in there? The one Heather Kiln Lanier (one of the four writers) refers to and is attributed to Pam Durham (not in the article): ‘Parenting gives you less time to write, but a deeper place to write from’.
For full article, click HERE.