Look at the international titles that landed in my mailbox this week: The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison and Dusk (Po-On) by F. Sionil Jose
This novel, long-listed for Britain's Orange Prize, has already gripped me: It's a WWII story of London and Yorkshire, of the children evacuated into the countryside to protect them from potential hostilities in London, and of a couple torn asunder by previous war and disease, and by their own unexpressed needs and desires. I'm already half way through the ARC paperback I received on Friday, and enjoying Alison's prose, characters, and historical insights immensely. If this novel continues to please, you can bet it'll be my first 4-5 star read in a few weeks: yay!
With regard to Dusk, or Po-On as it was originally titled, I want to thank Enbrethiliel over at Shredded Cheddar for answering my query about the Filipino novels she'd recommend for American teens' reading. She's a blogger who's exemplary in terms of correspondence and courtesy, not to mention insight, so I encourage y'all to go visit her regularly.
So: World Peace, you said? Yes, indeed: Peace through Books. My premise: Basic cultural awareness - not to mention appreciation - is the foundation for collaboration and compromise.
This prompts me to ask y'all to offer up your suggestions for my tenth grade World Literature class next year. I'm looking for the seminal stories from non-Western cultures and countries, especially. Because of their predicted future impact on our world economy - and due to the limited time in a yearlong class - I'd especially appreciate your suggestions for teen-worthy texts from China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia. Of course, if your background boasts keen knowledge of other world cultures, I would be honored to receive your suggestions as well.
PLEASE help me, and more importantly my students, all you well-read book bloggers. Talk about a quick and easy action that can positively impact the future: This is your chance.
And PLEASE stop by here tomorrow when the Top Ten list is "Top 10 Books Every Teenager Should Read". Trust me when I tell you, I'll have a LOT to say about that! And it won't be what you expect. Not at all.
Itchy for the latest enviables, mailbox-wise? Go visit the other bloggers hooked up to Mailbox Monday at Sea of Books...
Ready for the Roots Read-Along? Wondering what's happened to Kunta Kinte in the past decade?
One aspect of this section that caused me a little Kunta-envy was the exchange of handmade gifts between Bell and Kunta during their courtship. Although - of course - no one would want to exchange places with these slaves and I in no way want to make light of their hardships and the injustice of the entire situation, I will say that the idea of painstakingly crafting presents for a loved one as a means of showing them how you feel seems like a largely bygone practice. Sure, we'll purchase a present or even cook dinner or craft something, but the idea of putting in days' worth of work to craft something from what little you have is impressive and moving, at least for me.
In this section too, we see the emergence of slave rebellions as a regular concern for all involved, and we find out that Bell can read. The dangers of being a literate slave are emphasized, even as Kunta teaches his daughter Kizzy Mandinka words and Arabic writing. At this point, I think I know Haley's writing well enough to predict that this knowledge in a young child will be a dangerous thing, especially because Kunta is doing it secretly, in defiance of the much more savvy Bell's expressed wishes. As usual, Kunta's arrogance will cause problems (to put it mildly) for him, and now for others around him too. I continue to wonder why Haley crafted this character in this way, although - since he had previously written The Autobiography of Malcolm X - I have to suspect that he identifies with Kunta's "royal" bearing and dedication to Islam.
Of course, the slave rebellions spark increasingly draconian measures from the "massas", heightening a tension that I suspect will come to a head in the next section as well. I predict a collision course between the increasing paranoia of the white slave owners and the naively little Kizzy, not to mention Kunta.
Still enjoying this modern classic, and hope that if you haven't read it, you will.