...And here we are again, it's the weekend. Can't wait to sit back and relax after a very packed week. Honestly, the days seem to be zooming in incredible speed and I can't believe this weekend marks the end of the first month of 2015! It seems only yesterday I sat writing my 'new year resolutions' and 29 days later? Well, February is still technically a month at the beginning of the year isn't it? So what's the rush I'm thinking! It's always better to take it slow and come up with a solid plan and that's what I'm doing. Seriously! ;)
'Where oh where does the time fly?' was and continues to be a very regurgitated question by many a senior, i.e old, members of my family. Before I got to the age I am at now, my younger siblings, cousins and I would always roll our eyes when we heard this and file such a question, among many others, under 'Things Old People Say & Never Will We'. Lately, more often than is to my liking, I catch myself saying things that I vowed I'd never let pass my lips. I have also come to the horrifying conclusion that soon 'Mr. Fabulous Junior' will be filing my words under the same title or even creating one which reads like 'Old-yet-in-denial of her age & thus embarrassing things my mother says & I shall never say'. However, as I get wiser (one can only hope), I shall embrace my idiosyncrasies and whenever Junior complains I shall inwardly be 'mwahaha-ing' knowing he will one day be in my place.
Anyway, this week has been great in catching up with friends that I don't normally get a chance to properly sit down with for a chat because of their busy lives. But my gorgeous friend Ambreen and I met at 'Nathalie's Cafe' in Abu Dhabi and had a beautiful chat over Pasta and Chicken bake (me) and a Chicken Quesadilla (Ambreen). The chat led to books (of course) and here are two that she really enjoyed and highly recommends. Enjoy the weekend & see you on Sunday!
Author Helen McDonald has won the Costa Book of the Year Award 2014 for her book, 'H is for Hawk' which is a book about the author's personal account training a goshawk as a way of dealing with the loss of her father.
The £30,000 prize aims to honour outstanding books by authors based in the UK and Ireland and was previously called the Whitbread award. 'H is for Hawk' is the sixth biography to take the overall prize and the first in 10 years.
About the Book: (from Random House)
In real life, goshawks resemble sparrowhawks the way leopards resemble housecats. Bigger, yes. But bulkier, bloodier, deadlier, scarier, and much, much harder to see. Birds of deep woodland, not gardens, they’re the birdwatchers’ dark grail.’
As a child Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane terminology and read all the classic books, including T. H. White’s tortured masterpiece, The Goshawk, which describes White’s struggle to train a hawk as a spiritual contest.
When her father dies and she is knocked sideways by grief, she becomes obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She buys Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and takes her home to Cambridge. Then she fills the freezer with hawk food and unplugs the phone, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals.
‘To train a hawk you must watch it like a hawk, and so gain the ability to predict what it will do next. Eventually you don’t see the hawk’s body language at all. You seem to feel what it feels. The hawk’s apprehension becomes your own. As the days passed and I put myself in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her, my humanity was burning away.’
Destined to be a classic of nature writing, H is for Hawk is a record of a spiritual journey - an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald's struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk's taming and her own untaming. At the same time, it's a kaleidoscopic biography of the brilliant and troubled novelist T. H. White, best known for The Once and Future King. It's a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to try to reconcile death with life and love.
For more on this story and the reaction of Jane McDonald on her win, click HERE.
When/Where: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 | 6:30-8:00pm | NYUAD Saadiyat Campus, Conference Center, Open to the Public
The Event: Published between 1906 and 1930, Molla Nasreddin was a legendary Azerbaijani political satire read by an audience that stretched from Morocco to India. Arguably one of the most important periodicals of the Muslim world in the 20th century, the weekly addressed issues such as gender equality, education, colonialism, and Islam’s integration of modernity – all of which remain as relevant today as when the magazine was first published a century ago.
Speaker: The lecture will be given by Payam Sharifi Artist and Essayist, Co-Founder of Slavs and Tatars. Simultaneous Arabic interpretation will be provided.
For more on this event and to register, click HERE.
This book should come with a warning; ‘This book could change your life’, or ‘Completion of this book may trigger an instant desire to want to change the world’.
‘Americanah’ is basically a love story between a beautiful Nigerian woman called Ifemelu, and the love of her life Obinze. Preparing to travel back to Nigeria from America, Ifemelu has closed down her very successful blog about race and ended her relationship with the perfect boyfriend Blaine, an African American professor who ‘taught ideas of nuance and complexity in his classes’ at Princeton and who kissed and ‘held her tightly as though Obama’s victory was also their personal victory’. Ifemelu’s heart though lies in Nigeria and particularly with Obinze, who is a charismatic, sensitive, and now very wealthy man. However, he is married to someone else, and has children of his own. Having ended their relationship abruptly fifteen years ago, after a horrendous incident in America, Ifemelu and Obinze are now forced back into each other’s lives and feel they owe it to each other to attempt a kind of closure; a task that seems near impossible with the many experiences they have lived and the secrets they both carry.
However, as Ifemelu points out in the novel, “Why did people ask "What is it about?" as if a novel had to be about only one thing.” And so as a second attempt I would tell that this novel is a deep and as close to an honest account as there ever will be of the complex, and intriguing issue of race in the United States as recorded by a Non-American African whose rude awakening to the fact that her skin colour is an issue changes her life forever. Spurred on by the idiosyncrasies around her, Ifemelu writes a blog called ‘Raceteenth’ in which she airs her grievances and shares funny anecdotes regarding life in America. “The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America’. And in several of the posts, which are the best part of the book and the most dynamic, she writes, ‘Oppression Olympics is what smart liberal Americans say to make you feel stupid and to make you shut up. But there IS an oppression olympics going on. American racial minorities - blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Jews - all get shit from white folks, different kinds of shit but shit still. Each secretly believes that it gets the worst shit. So, no, there is no United League of the Oppressed. However, all the others think they're better than blacks because, well, they're not black.” And the posts go on and on and get only better and better.
‘Americanah’ is the term given to Nigerians when they return back from America. Thus another layer of the novel sheds light on the life of the privileged successful few and how they are looked upon and treated by their fellow compatriots when they return to their homeland. Those who have left are torn between longings for all that they missed while away and yet return unable to make peace with what their country has become. So they moan, grumble and complain about their beloved Nigeria but even that is conflicted when it comes to Ifemelu, ‘She was comfortable here, and she wished she were not. She wished, too, that she were not so interested in this new restaurant, did not perk up, imagining fresh green salads and steamed still-firm vegetables. She loved eating all the things she had missed while away, jollof rice cooked with a lot of oil, fried plantains, boiled yams, but she longed, also, for the other things she had become used to in America, even quinoa, Blaine's specialty, made with feta and tomatoes’.
And so the answer to what ‘Americanah’ is about is quite a complex one. It is about the concept of ‘home’ and what it has come to mean in the modern world where people will do anything to leave their birthplace, not because of war and torture, famine or starvation, but because of choicelessness. It is about raising a family in a world that is foreign and totally contrary to everything that one has been taught, governed by rules that are not only unfamiliar and border on the absurd but also come mired in injustice. It is about the naïve belief that your fellow men might offer refuge and assistance for the sole reason that you grew up on the same street or went to the same school or spoke the same language. It is about the absurdity of a society where you are seen as humble just because you refuse to exercise the right to rudeness and arrogance that comes with being affluent and powerful.
It is a look at how America regards its immigrants and how America is judged in return. The entire novel is a lesson in asking questions, being better informed and aware of things around us and how what we say and what we do contribute ultimately to the collective narrative that will define who we are and what we stand for as nations. And Ifemelu seems to suggest advice for the reformation: ‘If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more’.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be a guest speaker at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in March 2015. To listen to her inspiring and mesmerising TED speech "We Should All be Feminists" click on the video below.
Related Article: David Oyelowo to Star With Lupita Nyong’o in ‘Americanah’
Annual book exhibition @ Gallery Ras Al Ain kicks off in Amman, Jordan this Saturday 24 Jan. The three-day event, that runs from 10am-10pm, in downtown Amman will host several Jordanian and arab authors who will be signing copies of their latest releases.
The exhibition is a great chance for readers of all ages to get their hands on a diverse selection of old and recent releases that range from novels, to philosophy, religion, art and many others in both Arabic and English. There will also be a specialized children’s corner as well as unpriced books, meaning the customers pay at their own discretion. The move comes in a bid by organizers who hope this will help people who are at the exhibition to stock up new titles for their home library.
The exhibition is being promoted as a showcase for new talent as well as the place to head to for the latest published works by regional authors as well as international ones. Authors and poets expected to attend include Ibrahim Nasrallah, Qassem Tawfiq, Ayman Al Ottoom, Ahmed Hassan Al Zou’bi, Hisham Al Akhras, Samira Kilani, Subhi Fahmawi, Gazi Maraqa, Bahaa’ Gharaybeh and many more.
Ras Al Ain Gallery & Hangar
Ali Bin Abi Talib Street, Opposite to Al Hussein Cultural Center, Amman, Jordan. Tel:064736753
Frankenthing and the Monster become great friends; They play and laugh and dance. But Igor is lurking waiting for his chance. He had enjoyed killing Frankenthing so much the first time that he can’t wait to get his teeth and claws stuck in him again.
The book has been through quite a journey before its publication and Jeremy has promised a quick Q&A to tell us all about that. This will be posted next week along with a short review of the book. In the meantime, why not download it (click HERE) and let me know what you think.
To know more about Jeremy Banx and his work, click HERE
On twitter: @banxcartoons)
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