Knitting the Fog by Claudia D. Hernández

knitting the fog cover with misty path image, book on tile floor all in black and white

a nutshell: blending narrative personal essays and bilingual poetry, Hernández shares her matriarchal upbringing and her childhood journey from Guatemala to Los Angeles

a line: “Tía Soila has always been a breathing poem who knows how to climb the tallest tamarindo trees”

an image: the scene in which Hernández, her sisters & her mother are to cross the Río Bravo to make the leap from Mexico to the US is one of the most intensely memorable in the book, particularly the moment where one of the sisters worries aloud about their inability to swim and Hernández (“trying to be brave and hopeful”) reassures her that she’ll rescue her

a thought: her mother’s physical violence towards others and corporal punishments on the girls for any misbehaviour made for discomfiting reading; Hernández’s explanation of what her mother had endured earlier in life was telling, but not excusing, nevertheless the writer expresses gratitude in the Acknowledgements for her mother’s courage & sacrifices

a fact: languages & accents play a big role in Hernández’s story about coming of age, and I learned that Guatemala has more than twenty Mayan & distinct indigenous languages

want to read Knitting the Fog? visit here

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli

TW – this review contains references to sexual assault

a nutshell: a short, narrative nonfiction book bearing witness to the suffering of undocumented children navigating the US immigration system, drawing on Luiselli’s work as a volunteer court translator in New York

a line: “It is perhaps not the American Dream they pursue, but rather the more modest aspiration to wake up from the nightmare into which they were born”

an image: the writer describes seeing child migrants enter the court system as like being stood with hands and feet tied, powerless, watching kids try to cross a busy avenue with cars speeding by

a thought: rather than writing off these children as “illegals” or “aliens” we should regard them as refugees of a hemispheric war (in which the US has long been complicit), Luiselli argues, all of whom have the right to asylum

a fact: the writer notes the horrifying reality that 80% of the women and girls who cross Mexico to get to the US border are raped on the journey

 

want to read Tell Me How It Ends? visit here

Time’s Running Out for Scheherazade by Fawzia Zouari (tr. Judith Landry)

I read this excellent essay in Banipal 39 – Modern Tunisian Literature (2010)

a nutshell: a strident renunciation of society’s expectation that women’s words serve men, Zouari kicks out at the story of Scheherazade narrating tales only to distract her would-be murderous husband

a line: “From now on, I am the author of a story which is its own wellspring, not a bid for reprieve”

an image: walking from age to age without raising one’s voice or setting one’s feet where an echo might ring out, women have been silenced through ‘silken wings’ or weighty gold – male attempts to assuage their appetite for flight

a thought: the writer is now invested in “I” and turns her gaze inward rather than downward; her stories are for the purpose of better living with herself

a fact: the story of Scheherazade, which frames the collection of Middle Eastern folklore, One Thousand and One Nights, sees the young woman spend 1001 nights narrating cliff-hanger tales to her monarchical husband, Shahryar, so he’d let her live another day (all his previous wives had been beheaded)

want to read Time’s Running Out for Scheherazade? visit here