First, an explanation. Laurianne and I recently moved from our apartment above the paint store to a luxurious pad further north-east. This, at least partially, explains why I have not updated for such a long time. Our new apartment is quite nice and all our friends are invited to come (almost) anytime. For those interested our new address is: 9 Rue Galipeau Apt. 1, Gatineau QC, J8Y 4C2.
Without television or access to the internet I have been doing quite a bit of reading. I read Nurrudin Farrah's Links, Andrea Levy's Fruit of the Lemon and Never Far from Nowhere, Edward P. Jones' The Known World, M.G. Vassanji's The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, and I have begun The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke.
Nurrudin Farrah's Links is an excellent book and I admire his poetic and deft skill with words. He has an incredible gift with language and story-telling. Links tells the story of Jeebleh, a Somali-American, who returns to his roots after twenty years to make peace with his mother's memory and his old friends. Mogadishu comes alive with startling clarity and complexity. I would recommend this books based on Farrah's gift with words alone.
Andrea Levy is a British author of Jamaican descent who writes about the Jamaican experience in England. Both books were quite good, but I would recommend Small Island before either of these two books. This is not to say they aren't good because they're quite good; they just don't seem as carefully crafted as Small Island.
Edward P. Jones' The Known World is an intricate tapestry of intersecting plotlines and rich characterization. The book is set in antebellum United States. The reader is thrust into a disconcerting situation where a slave plantation is owned by a rich black man. This sort of situation was very rare in the United States but it did happen and Jones' consistently unsettled my moral assumptions by creating sympathy for characters whom we are, archetypically, supposed to despise. The book is rich with connections between places, times, and characters.
M.G. Vassanji's The In-between World of Vikram Lall is also an excellent book. As the title suggests, the main character is one Vikram Lall, one of the most corrupt men in Kenya. Vassanji tells the story of Lall from his youth, the brutal Mau Mau attack that had such an impact on his life, to the present. Vassanji ably shows us the tightrope in between coloniser and colonised that the descendents of the Indians who worked on Kenya's railways balanced upon. Historical characters like Jomo Kenyatta come alive and the confusing and blinding ideology of ethnic nationalism is deftly portrayed.
I have also watched some good movies. The best one was probably Everything is Illuminated. Many people would hesitate before watching this movie because of the presence of Elijah Wood. I, too, hesitated, but this story of a Jew who visits Ukraine to trace his roots is a powerful, humourous and dramatic masterpiece. Well, maybe not a masterpiece but a really really good movie.
You may have read this and wondered why I have the pictures of Heineken when I didn't even mention Heineken anywhere in this entry. Well, I have now, so the pictures do belong. Gotta go, see ya later.