非漂 [Fēi Piāo] 本周精彩语录: 论四川话

Sichuan hua (四川话) sounds like a

remote mountain primate attempting rap-opera

(As uttered by rock musician and peripatetic travel writer 小飞, aka Thomas Bird)

 

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Pamuk on Teaching His Own Novels

I teach comparative literature at Columbia University. At the start of every semester, if I plan to discuss one of my own novels in class, I always tell my new students an old story about writing and teaching.

It’s a very popular (but possibly apocryphal) anecdote about Vladimir Nabokov. In 1957, he was proposed for an appointment at Harvard University as professor of Russian literature. Not everyone welcomed the idea. “If Russian literature is to be taught by Russian greats,” the Harvard linguist Roman Jacobson reportedly told his colleagues, “then we must get elephants to teach at the faculty of zoology.”

(Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, quoted in Sometimes, to Teach a Novel Feels Like a Betrayal of Literature)

To Gloss or Not, That is the Question

There’s a part of me that just deeply resents the fact that there’re many parts of the world where the fiction that comes from there is read as anthropology rather than as literature. And increasingly that kind of anthropological reading then means that . . . you’re explaining your world rather than inhabiting your world.

(Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaking in Glossing Africa, referring to the practice of briefly defining, footnoting, or otherwise clarifying the usage of an indigenous term in one’s fiction writing)

Altaic Storytelling Quote of the Week: Elif Şafak on Bilingual Road Signs

The next day I am on my way to the Hay Festival. This year I am prepared for the rain – boots, scarves and raincoats. I remember the first time I went to Hay as a young novelist. I stopped by a road sign just because it was written in Welsh and English. I had never seen anything similar in Turkey. It was unthinkable: a simple road sign written in Turkish and Kurdish.

(From the online diary of Elif Şafak, Turkey’s best-known novelist)

Quote of the Week: Lumières de Pointe-Noire

Quand tu grandiras, quelle que soit la brousse dans laquelle tu entreras, dis-toi que les esprits y logent, et respecte aussi bien la faune que la flore, y compris les objets qui te paraissent sans intérêt comme un champignon ou un pauvre petit ver de terre qui tente de regagner le bord d’un rivière. Chez nous on ne chasse que les écureuils et les pangolins, c’est ce que nos ancêtres nous donnent comme gibier parce que les autres animaux, sauf si nous recevons message contraire à travers nos rêves, sont les membres de la famile qui sont partis de ce monde mais qui vivent dans l’autre. Mangerais-tu ton père, ta mère ou ton frère? Je pense que non. Je sais ce que c’est des choses bizarres pour toi que es un enfant élevé dans la ville, ce sont pourtant ces réalités qui ont fait de nous ce que nous sommes. Quant à toi, abstiens-toi de manger la viande de biche et de cerf car, même si tu n’en mourras pas, il y aura quelque chose de toi qui disparaîtra, et ce quelque chose s’appelle la chance, ou plutot la bénédiction . . .

(Excerpt from Lumières de Pointe-Noire by Alain Mabanckou)

Quote of the Week: Qui a peur du wolof?

Si tout écrivain entretient des rapports orageux avec les mots, dans le cas de l’auteur africain, c’est sa langue d’écriture qui est tout entière problématique. On m’a ainsi demandé d’abord: 《Pourquoi ecrivez-vous en français?》, puis après la parution de mon roman Doomi Golo: 《Pourquoi écrivez-vous en wolof?》  

(Senegalese author Boubacar Boris Diop in Le dilemme des écrivains africains: Qui a peur du wolof? (Le Monde Diplomatique, March 2017)

Quote of the Week: What’s on the Curriculum for Students in South Africa?

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One tweet in reaction to the Abantu Book Festival’s opening tweet designed to restart the decoloniality conversation:

Quote of the Week: On Swahili Literature Denigrating Slaves

Much of Swahili literature, including proverbs and canonical works like Utendi wa Mwana Kupona, denigrate watumwa (slaves) as if blacks were not forcibly captured, raped, castrated, and uprooted from their cultures. The casualness with which slavery is treated, even by progressive poets like Muyaka, is the biggest scandal in Swahili letters.

(Evan Mwangi, in his essay We Need a Slave Rebellion in Literary Studies of Swahili, that reviews two books, The Story of Swahili and The Cultural Politics of Translation: East Africa in Global Contexts)

Quote of the Week: No “Whitewashing” Worries

“Cassava Republic is taking our literature to the world, as opposed to bringing literature curated by foreign publishers to the continent. This is remarkable,” he says. “I have always said that to correct the narrative about ‘Africa’, to tell our own story, we must be in charge of the production of our narratives, we must own the means of production.

“With Cassava I do not have to worry about a foreign editor ‘whitewashing’ my manuscript for an international audience until it is barely recognisable to the people where the story is set. I know that Cassava knows what I am trying to do and has the same vision for the integrity of narrative as I do.”

(Author Mr. John, cited in an interview about Cassava’s new subsidiary in London, Publisher’s Expansion Brings Nigerian Writers to World Stage)

Quote of the Week: Better Ignorant than Misinformed

“. . . a society is best when it is fully and truly informed, otherwise an uninformed society is better than a misinformed one.”

(Dr Negeri Lencho, Ethiopia’s new Minister of Government Communication Affairs, speaking in a 2013 interview)