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Discover Yemen through its Literature: Six Contemporary Authors Worth Reading

On Arabic Literature in English, M. Lynx Qualey presents six contemporary Yemeni authors worth discovering.

She points out:

As you might expect from a troubled nation with relatively little modern literary output, there aren’t many translations of Yemeni work available in English. However, there are some, as several Yemeni authors have received regional and international acclaim.

These authors are: Mohammad Abdul-Wali, Zaid Mutee Dammaj, Ali al-Muqri, Wajdi al-Ahdal, Nadia Alkowkabani and Shawqi Shafiq.

Qualey was inspired to write about those Yemeni writers by an article published in Yemen Times on March 23, 2015, entitled “Political Crisis and Yemen's Literary Insurgence”. The article mentions other renowned authors such as Marwan Ghafory, Mohammed Algharbi Amran , Habib Sorori, Safa’a Al-Habal, Ahmed Al-Sakkaf or Samir AbdulfattahRamzia Al-Iryani.

It speaks about how the political crisis affected the publishing sector and how, on the other hand, “what the country is going through gives writers a will to write. They try to reflect on what is happening around them within their works.” The article continues: “Ongoing political turmoil may not bode well for Yemen, but if 2014 is any indication, the outlook for its national literary scene is a promising one.”

13 Eritrean Writers You Should Know About

Woyingi compiles a list of Eritrean literature, which includes Sulaiman Addonia's The Consequences of Love and Taught to hate: observations on madrasas, Astier M. Almedom's Re-reading the Short and Long-Rigged History of Eritrea 1941–1952: Back to the Future?, Alemseged Tesfai's Two Weeks in the Trenches: Reminiscences of Childhood and War in Eritrea (Memoir) and Tekie Fessehatzion's Shattered Illusion, Broken Promise: Essays on the Eritrea-Ethiopia Conflict 1998-2000 (Essays).

Film: The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo

The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo is a film by filmmaker Yaba Badoe:

The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, explores the artistic contribution of one of Africa's foremost women writers, a trailblazer for an entire generation of exciting new talent.
This feature-length documentary charts Ama Ata Aidoo's creative journey in a life that spans 7 decades from colonial Ghana, through the tumultuous era of independence, to a more sober present day Africa where nurturing women's creative talent remains as hard as ever.

The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo (Teaser) from Big Heart Media on Vimeo.

Poetry Project Bridges Language and Cultural Barriers between Arabic and Hebrew Speakers in Israel

The Two Project promotes Arabic and Hebrew arts and culture through the language of poetry.

The Two Project promotes Arabic and Hebrew arts and culture through the language of poetry.

The Two Project has just launched, a collaboration between Israeli Jews and Arabs to connect their cultures through the language of poetry. Hebrew and Arabic are both official languages of Israel. Six years in the making, the project is an offshoot of a recently published book, Two: A Bilingual Anthology (link is in Hebrew).

On their website, the Two Project's creators Almog Behar, Tamer Massalha, and Tamar Weiss write [Heb/Ar]:

This site is a part of the Two Project: a bilingual cultural project focusing on the literature and poetry of youth. Its aim is to create a convergence of dialogue between the two vibrant cultures of Israel, in Arabic and Hebrew. [The project presents] a new generation of writers and readers, who because of language barriers, culture, politics, and physical boundaries are not familiar with what goes on in the modern literary scene of their neighbors.

Anat Niv, editor-in-chief of Keter Publishing, who is responsible for the anthology, remarks:

The very fact that you are holding a book and reading it in Hebrew, with a text in Arabic script on the facing page, or vice versa, is a very powerful experience. Even if you don’t read Arabic, when reading this book you can no longer remain oblivious to the fact that this is a place where people live and create in two languages.

Follow the project on their website or on Facebook in Hebrew and Arabic. Two new authors, an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jew, will be featured monthly.

Marlon James Writes the Great Jamaican Novel – and the World is Raving About It

Jamaican author Marlon James’ new novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, has been released to such fanfare that even hard-hitting literary critics cannot use enough superlatives in their reviews. Michiko Kakutani, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The New York Times, described James as a “prodigious talent”, calling the novel “epic […] sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex.”

Jamaica-based blogger Annie Paul apparently beat international mainstream media to the punch, however. In this post, Paul reveals that she kindly took down an initial interview with James so as not to “[break] the [US] national embargo on information on Brief History and its author”.

The plot of “Seven Killings” uses the real-life assassination attempt on reggae icon Bob Marley a few days before he was to perform at the free One Love Peace Concert in Kingston in December 1976, as a jumping off point from which to discuss issues of race and class in Jamaica, as well as the entangled political relationship between the United States and the Caribbean region.

In her “exclusive interview” with the author, Paul talks to James about his process, admires his seemingly effortless use of Jamaican patois “in a way that outsiders can grasp” and wonders if there might be a sequel. Read the whole interview here.

Looking for Books on Islam, Feminism and Racialisation?

Blogger Royayah Chamseddin,  a Sydney based Lebanese-American journalist and commentator, shares a list of books on Islam, feminism and racialization in this blog post on her blog Letters from The Underground.

The list, which will continue to be expanded, includes links to some books which are available for free download in PDF format.

Global Voices Author Nwachukwu Egbunike Unveils Debut Collection of Poems

Global Voices author and writer Nwachukwu Egbunike will unveil his new book Blazing Moon today in Ibadan, Nigeria:

Join us as we unveil Nwachukwu Egbunike’s debut collection of poems Blazing Moon. Egbunike is a blogger and essayist.

In commemoration of the 2015 World Poetry Day celebration, the March edition of ARTMOSPHERE will also play host to Dami Ajayi, a medical doctor and author of the poetry collection, Clinical Blues.

Both poets will read from their collections and discuss the creative process, governance, political, as well as social issues. There will also be book signings and music performances by D’Jazz Band at the event.

Blazing Moon is a book that draws you out, strips you naked, and asks you to confront yourself, define yourself and know who you are. There is no room for quibbles, for middle-of-the road stances: you must yourself pick up the gauntlet and fight your own battle of honour, of faith, of self. In this you will confront striking contrasts that paint human follies in the garb of lifting sanctity: thirsty, loves the drought; hungry, loves the famine; the contents though spilled, yet never exhausted. You would be telling yourself, I know a story like that.

What is Sinology?

Sinology is still unknown to many people, as Isma Ruiz writes after attending the I International Congress of Sinology in Spanish, last June at the University of Tamkang – Tamsui, Taiwan.

Although the focus was translation and interpretation of classic Chinese books, the necessity of learning a new language when studying a culture or being able to use the language in politics were also addressed. Two lecturers caught the interest of Ruiz, Alicia Relinque and Eduardo Daniel Oviedo. About their talks, Ruiz notes:

Relinque, nos explicó muy brevemente su experiencia personal como traductora y cómo a lo largo del tiempo ha ido cambiando su metodología en función de la obra a traducir e incluso a veces por los requisitos impuestos desde la editorial. Seguidamente expuso varios ejemplos de traducciones de otros autores

[…]

(Oviedo) trataba del papel que juega actualmente el chino como elemento integrador de la sociedad china, así como la lucha que tiene con otros idiomas para ser la lengua hegemónica a medida que crece el poder político y económico de la República Popular China, mientras expande su influencia a otras regiones del mundo de cara a la formación de una lengua global.

Relinque briefly explained us her personal experience as translator and how as time went by she has been changing her methodology according to the text to be translated and sometimes even according to the requirements by the publisher. She then talked about several translations by other authors

[…]

(Oviedo) addressed the role currently played by Chinese language as unifying element in Chinese society, as well as the struggle it has with other languages to be the hegemonic language as Popular Republic of China's political and economic power grows, as it expands its influence to other regions of the world in regards to the formation of a global language.

Now it's time to wait for the second edition on 2016 and the possibility for the Autonomous University of Barcelona to organize it. That hasn't been decided yet.

You can follow Isma Ruiz on Twitter and Facebook.

This post was part of the twenty-eighth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 10, 2014.

Hometown Through the Eyes of Its Children

Imagen en Flickr del usuario  iñaki de luis (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Image on Flickr by user iñaki de luis (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Chapacoco, a Peruvian village located at an altitude of 3,000 meters, part of the district of Chilcaymarca in the Arequipean province of Castilla, has been in the news thanks to its children.

On October 10, 2014, the book “Chapacoco as seen from the children” was launched. The book has been written by fifth and sixth graders from the Elementary School 40351. Under the guide of their teacher Ronny Durand, in charge of the project “Making science as a game”, the students investigated for over a year about customs and riches of the area:

El libro resulta de Proyecto de Innovación Pedagógica “Haciendo Ciencia Como Jugando”, que tiene como objetivo que los niños desarrollen competencias y capacidades utilizando el conocimiento de la realidad, promoviendo la identidad cultural, la conciencia ambiental y la participación comunitaria. Resultado de esta es que la obra contiene: los datos generales (ubicación, población, servicios y geografía); costumbres y tradiciones, como mitos, cuentos y leyendas; la gastronomía, artesanía, paisajes turísticos y restos arqueológicos del lugar; y la riqueza natural de la flora y fauna.

The book results from the Educational Innovation Project “Making science as a game”, that has as an objective that children develop competences and abilities using knowledge from reality, promoting cultural identity, environmental awareness and community participation. As a result, the book has general information (location, population, services and geography); customs and traditions, such as myths, tales and legends; gastronomy, craftwork, tourist landscapes and archeological remains; and the natural riches of flora and fauna.

Indigenous Libraries As Social Venues

bib-mex

Library of National Autonomous University of Mexico. Image by Esparta on flickr (CC BY 2.0).

“One thing is that books satisfy users’ curiosity, and a very different one that is that it might represent the identity of the community them belong to”. Argentinian librarian Daniel Canosa questions the role and function of local libraries. On Infotecarios network he writes:

Las bibliotecas indígenas, [deberían] generar conocimiento desde la participación local y comunitaria, ofrecer un modo de entendimiento, que es a la vez una manera de construir identidad. El tema es si lo que ofrece la biblioteca representa lo que cada comunidad sabe y conoce, si lo que construye el bibliotecario con su comunidad permite una genuina afinidad con la memoria histórica del pueblo. No se tratan de ideas nuevas, pero es necesario avanzar interpelando las mismas.
[…]
Si las bibliotecas difunden la producción de la gente de su lugar de pertenencia, entonces no sólo las elites tendrán presencia en el mundo de la información.

Indigneous libraries [should] generate knowledge from local and community participation, provide a way of understanding, that in time is a way of building identity. The thing is if what libraries provide represent what each community knows, if what a librarian builds with their community allows a true affinity with people's historic memory. This is not about new ideas, but things should move forward questioning those ideas.
[…]
If libraries spread people's production from their own places, then not only the elites won't be then only ones in the world of information.

The author highlights the fact that burning libraries, as happened in the past, eliminates peoples’ memories and therefore their identity. He also highlights the works by Colombia Indigenous Peoples Basic Library, puts into question publications by Abya Yala Ecuadorian publishing house and presents an instance of “social inclusion” with Eloísa Cartonera Cooperative from Argentina.

Read more about this, visit Daniel Canosa's personal blog or contact him on LinkedIn.

This post was part of the fourteenth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on August 4, 2014.

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