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Indigenous Libraries As Social Venues


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.

Second Biggest Arts Festival in the World Taking Place in South Africa

Live reports from the National Arts Festival taking place in Grahamstown, South Africa:

Every winter, for 11 days in early July, the sleepy South African college town of Grahamstown comes alive with art. Artists from all over the world swarm to the tiny town, and every nook and cranny is packed with theatre, dance, performance art, film, comedy puppets and face paint with the sweet sounds of jazz spilling onto the streets. The National Arts Festival, that celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, is the second biggest arts festivals in the world. For the last couple of years, a group of journalism students at Rhodes University cover the festival through a pop-up newsroom called CueTube, where they interview a variety of artists, choreographers and directors. Here’s some samples of the work.

International Authors Condemn Israel's Continued Settlement Construction

Sixteen international authors who participated at the Palestine Festival of Literature, held from in several Palestinian cities from May 31 to June 5, released a statement condemning Israel's continued settlement construction and applauding the efforts of the Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) campaign. The statement, shared on Facebook, reads:

“Having personally witnessed the injustice visited upon the Palestinian people in the territories occupied by Israel, it is with the utmost sadness and dismay that we – the undersigned international authors and artists – note Benjamin Netanyahu's approval this week of yet another 1,500 new illegal settlements units in the West Bank. This is particularly unfortunate at a moment when the Palestinians have formed a unity government that has been recognized by the international community.

Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories have long since been pronounced illegal by international law. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is itself illegal, and declared so by the international community through various UN resolutions.

Additional settlements can be seen only as an act of aggression, showing utter disregard not just for the human and civil rights of the Palestinian people, but for international law.

We applaud the non-violent efforts of the BDS campaign ( and express our solidarity with its demand that Israel should comply with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab land and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

We thus call for the Israeli Government to respect international law and reverse the approval of the thousand plus additional settlements units in the West Bank.

We furthermore call on the International Community to work to induce Israel to uphold basic principles of international law.


Sharif Abdel Khouddous
Susan Abdulhawa
Teju Cole
Nathan Hamilton
Nathalie Handal
Brigid Keenan
Sabrina Mahfouz
Michael Ondaatje
Ed Pavlic
Eliza Robertson
Kamila Shamsie
Ahdaf Soueif
Linda Spalding
Janne Teller
Haifa Zangana

6th of June 2014.”

‘Inner Monologue, Turning Point in Spanish Prose’

On her blog, author Ma. Gemma Romero analyzes the changes in Spanish prose from the evolution of the inner monologue as literary resource. In her article, she takes into account Luis Martín-Santos Ribera's works:

El monólogo interior [...] rompe con el realismo de los años cincuenta y entra en escena la verdadera crítica social. Un libro y un autor son los responsables principales de este cambio: Martín Santos y su novela “Tiempo de silencio”; en ella aparece el componente esencial del monólogo interior para reflejar un montón de realidades que sirven para completar la rica descripción de ambientes y lugares de Madrid.

Inner monologue [...] gets separated from 1950s realism and the real social criticism enters the scene. A book and an author are the main people responsible for this change: Martín Santos and his novel “Time of silence”, where the fundamental part of the inner monologue appears, to reflect many realities that complete the rich description of circles and places in Madrid.

Although the works by late psychiatrist Martín Santos are just three novels, two essays and an unpublished collection of short narrations, along with psychiatric texts, he is remembered for the important changes on Spanish literature thanks to his writings. As Gemma Romero says:

Leer sobre una época es la mejor manera de conocerla.

Reading about an era is the best way to know it.

Besides her blog, you can follow this author on Twitter.

This post was part of the sixth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on June 9, 2014.

10 African Literature Blogs You Should Know About

Kenyan blogger James Murua lists 10 African literature rich blogs:

So you want to keep abreast of what’s happening in the African literature space. Want to get news and reviews from the books written by and about African experience? Try these ones listed in alphabetical order;

1. Authors in Africa

This blog focuses on bloggers in the African continent without a focus on mainly writers from all over Sub Saharan Africa. The site gives reviews of books as well as interviews with authors, a section dedicated to poets and essayists, as well as book synopsis and short stories. The site is regularly updated.

2. Bookshy: An Africa book lover

This blog is managed by a London based book lover. The book contains news from the African literature scene as well as reviewed by the blogger. With over seventy reviews of some of the best books from the continent this is an important space to keep up with our scene. I especially like the “meet” section where the blogger interviews some really cool writers. The blog is updated every week or so.

3. Books Live

This is probably the most well managed blog out there for Afro lit. With reviews coming regularly as well as the keeping track of what your favourite authors are up to or what is being written about them this might be THE site to keep visiting. Based in South Africa, the blog is rich in content from the writers from Africa’s most southern most country but it also keeps you abreast of many from other parts. There is new content on this site daily. #Win

Being A Black West Indian in Britain

Jamaican author Kei Miller's blog post about “the anxieties of being a black poet in Britain” draws from several personal experiences, leading him to the conclusion that “the act of writing certain black experiences has to be one of translation – as surely as we translate from one language into another”:

Blackness itself is still seen to exist in a place outside of language, or at least outside the refined language of poetry…And I do not know whether the old dictum about the economy of translation is true – whether or not something is always lost…But this much seems to be important, that we keep blackness in check. In this way, the anxieties of being a black poet in Britain are obviously part and parcel of the broader anxieties of being black in Britain.

“About Separation” by Mariangel

Mariangel from the blog El Ovario shares her poem “About separation“, about the end of relationships:

Ahora que ya todo acabó
lo miro con su extraño caminar
con nuestras soledades a cuestas
dos cuerpos ahora tan extraños
ajenos y alejados
dos almas que un instante
se [sintieron] gemelas
ahora tan lejanas
Nos unieron nuestras soledades
nuestras minucias
solo fuimos dos que un día
no quisieron sentirse solos
y se quisieron
y vivieron juntos
para acallar el vacio
para silenciar las voces
para creer

Now that everything is over
I look at his unique way of walking
carrying our own solitudes
two bodies, now so strangers
distant and remote,
two souls that for an instant
[were] mates
now too apart.
Our solitudes brought us together
our trifles
we were only two that one day
didn't want to be alone
and they loved each other
and lived together
to quieten the void
to quieten the voices
to believe

You can read the rest of the poem on the original post in Spanish. On the blog there are more poems as well as essays and anecdotes, from a female point of view. You can also follow her on Twitter.

This post was part of the tenth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 7, 2014.

Goethe's Faust, Between Classicism and Romanticism


Image of a representation of Faust by Haags Uitburo on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

It's sometimes complicated to understand or discuss terms like Classicism or Romanticism, especially for someone who is not involved in literature. But that's not the case with Mª Gemma Romero Perea, who thinks Goethe, through his Faust, shows a rare synthesis between Romanticism and Classicism. She explains:

Fausto es la obra más importante del autor; el ambiente en el que se desarrolla es el de la lejanía y el del misterio, y el pacto que Fausto hace con el diablo recoge el tétrico estilo romántico a la perfección. La historia arranca de una leyenda medieval, el protagonista, dedicado a la ciencia, pacta con el diablo para recuperar de nuevo la juventud y lograr de ese modo el amor de Margarita. Con un profundo estilo filosófico, Fausto lucha contra las leyes de la naturaleza y contra todo lo sagrado para convertirse en un rebelde romántico. Lo más significativo es el halo de misterio que rodea al protagonista y su terrible trato con el diablo para retomar la juventud. Pero además de los caracteres románticos del personaje, hay algo que destaca sobre todas las cosas, y es que Fausto se convertirá en un verdadero ídolo para todos los tiempos junto al Quijote y a Don Juan, un personaje lleno de matices que convertirá a su creador Goethe en un verdadero maestro de la literatura que influirá en su tiempo y en los posteriores de forma decisiva.

Faust is the author's most important work; the environment where it's set is of distance and mystery, and the pact Faust makes with the devil gets the gloomy romantic style perfectly. The story starts from a medieval legend, the main character, dedicated to science, agrees with the devil so he can get back his youth and having Margarita's love. With a profound philosophical style, Faust fights Nature's laws and all that is sacred to become a romantic rebel. The most significant thing here is the mystery aura surrounding the main characters and his terrible pact with the devil to get back his youth. But besides those romantic features of the character, there is something that stands out above all, and it's that Faust will become an all-times real idol, just as Don Quijote and Don Juan, a character that will make its creator Goethe a real master of literature that will have decisive influence during his time and later.

This post was part of the seventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on June 16, 2014.

Trinidadian Writer Makes Frank O'Connor Award Longlist

Repeating Islands notes that Trinidadian writer Barbara Jenkins has been longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award for her book Sic Transit Wagon, adding: “The shortlist of six will be announced at the end of the week.”

BookCrossing in Latin America

Silvana Aquino writes [es] on Infotecarios about BookCrossing, BC, the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

BC has become a an increasingly popular phenomenon, as right now there are two millions of registered users, known as BookCrossers, who have released about tne million books in 132 countries. Through these free books that go beyond barriers of time and space, the intention is to turn the world into a global library.

And then, Silvana tells us a Latin American experience:

So, there is the B Day [es] with the aim of “atttracting attentios about books circulating as objects, as idea carriers, as cultural assets, this is the main idea of this proposed action.” This practice is carried out every September 21 since 2010 in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru [es] and year by year, more countries from other regions have started to participate.

The post reviewed here was part of the first #LunesDeBlogsGV [Monday of blogs on GV] on May 5, 2014.

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