In south London, 2006, 20-year old Banaz Mahmod’s uncles and cousins burst into her house early in the morning. They woke her by raping and beating by her for several hours, with the consent and approval of her immediate family. Then they murdered her in a slow and gruesome manner. Her parents removed all pictures of her from the house. Years later, they refused to cooperate with police investigations.
The Honour Based Violence Awareness Network estimates that 5000 honour killings are committed around the world every year.
Andrés Neuman’s Traveler of the Century reflects Latin America’s “total novel,” brutally examining all aspects of society through diverse yet overlapping themes. It contemplates a myriad of subjects: investigating contemporary politics through the lens of history, the nature of belonging, memory, citizenship, aesthetics, language, love, dreams, time, and the performance of propriety, to name a few…
Fawzia Koofi, Afghanistan’s first female parliamentary speaker, is currently a leading candidate for the country’s 2014 presidential elections. Her recently published memoir “The Favored Daughter,” is reaching a global audience. It has now been sold in 20 different countries and published in English, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish. As much as “The Favored Daughter” is a political memoir it is also a story about relationships between women, mothers, daughters, and strangers.
“This is what I live for…,” Koofi writes. “…And what I know I will die for.”
My father used to tell me stories about nights he spent in the mountains, living off the land and eating insects. As a child, I would reply to those tales by wrinkling my nose and exclaiming, “Ewww!” The desire to eat wild things seemed so distant from my urban California life. Little did I know that when I moved to nearby San Francisco, I’d be seeking out exotic proteins from innovative chefs…
The latest novel by Spanish writer Carloz Ruiz Zafón opens on a cold winter’s day in Barcelona. Business is abysmal at Sempre & Sons bookshop. The Sempre family’s loquacious friend, Fermín Romero de Torres, offers to parade in his underwear by the bookstore window to incite “strong literary emotions” from females passing by. Thus begins Zafón’s venture into The Prisoner of Heaven, the third part of his multimillion-selling literary series.
Zafron’s previous samplings, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game, are neither prequels nor sequels to this third installment. Zafón has created a labyrinth of stories, free from chronology, with intertwining characters, locations, themes, and storylines. All three novels revolve around an occult library beneath the streets of Barcelona, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The novels are gothic, stylized, romantic tales driven by passion for the written word.
The protagonist of The Angel’s Game is a journalist-turned-novelist who sells his soul for the love of writing. The Prisoner of Heaven continues that theme of the publishing industry’s shadowy deviance, adding to it the criticism of Spanish literary circles. The Shadow of the Wind chronicles the adventures of a young reader, Daniel, the son of Sempre & Sons bookshop owner. The Prisoner of Heaven subsequently unfolds layers of Daniel’s story. But it also explores Fermín’s dark past as a Catalonian intelligence agent, imprisoned in the Montjuic Castle for espionage.
Like all of Zafón’s stories, this one draws symbolism and parallels from a classic work of literature. The Prisoner of Heaven’s is The Count of Monte Cristo. In this third installment Fermín meets David Martín, the protagonist of The Angel’s Game, while in prison. They use the classic tale by Dumas as code. Together the two literature lovers, Fermín and David, plan an escape. In the Montjuic Castle we find how all of the characters’ of Zafón’s stories are connected through a single villain, Valls.
Valls is an aspiring writer, without talent or modesty, who rose to power through marriage, murder, and connections during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. With a sadistic ego, Valls begins his political ascent as director of the prison in Montjuic Castle. The Prisoner of Heavenis Zafón’s most blatantly political and historical work so far, but it is all still couched securely in fiction by the familiar, dramatic exaggeration in Zafón’s prose.
“I held on to the skin and flesh thinking the doctors would be able to reattach it,” Bina Akhter described how a group of men attacked Akhter with acid when she was fourteen years old.
The typical image of acid attack victims in Bangladesh is the common description of a women victim who is someone who has denied a man by rejecting his advances. But in reality acid attacks effect both genders. It also affects many children. Many victims and survivors like Akhter also have had no previous conflict with their attackers.
Akhter’s attack was intended to terrorize her family into obedience when a gang of men, with local political connections, broke into her house to abduct her cousin.
“The acid was dripping into my mouth. I could taste it,” Akhter said.
Chowdhury researched and gathered interviews for over a decade before she completed her latest book, “Transnationalism Reversed: Women Organizing against Gendered Violence in Bangladesh.”
In his recent blend of fiction, essays, and literary genealogy,The Loss Library and Other Unfinished Stories, South African writer Ivan Vladislavic delves into the dazzling enigmas of unwritten work. He draws from his personal notebooks over the past two decades and uses writer’s block, the writer’s ultimate pestilence, as a source for inspiration. This book is short, sweet and thought provoking, a morsel of prose that weaves around itself like a jazz melody on its way to nowhere, contemplating the craft.
Photo by Alex Levac
The Hagar and Miriam Project has helped over 400 African migrant women in Israel since 2007. It has always operated on a shoe string, but the aftermath of an anti-immigrant backlash to cases of rape in Tel Aviv has brought fundraising to a standstill…read more from my article published by Women’s eNews.
When I lived in East Jerusalem, so many moons ago, I had a flatmate named Iftach. He was a philosopher, a poet, a pianist, a composer and lyricist, an impish Casanova and a janitor.
He showed me his first English experiment, writing in a foreign tongue. It rocked my world. The crisp, bare elegance of his words astounded me. This encounter inspired me to play in the language of Luis Cernuda and Octavio Paz.
I dared to make mistakes. Or at least, for the first time I acknowledged their inevitability but refused to let that stop me. I still stumble through Spanish like a person walking in shoes several sizes too big. But with the help of friends, mentors and a dictionary, I’ve managed to create poems that feel whole in my mouth.
I ran into Iftach when I returned to Jerusalem. I asked him for that poem. He wrote it down for me. He told me sharing a poem fulfills it.
And now I have the pleasure of fulfilling it with you.
“I want to meet your ghosts
To caress their troubled wisps.
I want to pour wine into their thin-legged glasses.
To untie their smiles softly, with lots of care
Guiding their metaphysic conversations
All of us in the dark living room
With the lights of the city fading.”
Photo of Jerusalem by Leigh
Israeli Opera Festival 2012 : Carmen
Israeli Opera Festival 2012 featured five performances of the classic opera, Carmen, June 7 to 11 at Masada. “We wanted to perform opera in the desert, not just to have an opera performance at a desert location,” said the Israeli Opera’s Artistic Director, Michael Ajzenstadt.
“There is no stage. There is sand and rock beneath the mountain. The set is an extension of the surrounding habitat. In three weeks we will deconstruct the set and leave no trace.”
Ajzenstadt said the entire crew, including 10 international soloists, many of whom had never been to Israel before, was affected by the symbolism and significance of the location’s natural beauty. They stood in awe for almost an hour before rehearsals began.
Photos of Masada and surrounding area by Leigh
I’ve been blogging for the Green Prophet while settling in and apartment hunting.
Here’s some of the highlights:
Photo by Leigh, The Road to Rainbow Cave
(Murals by Laura Campos: Father Richard’s mural, above; “No one is illegal,” below. All images courtesy of the artists.)
San Francisco’s murals are what first endeared me to this city. wandered its alleys
for five years and still only seen a fraction of the street’s evolving colors. The city is
home to three Diego Riviera murals. Despite urban myth, none of them are in Coit Tower.
In the 1970’s, the Mission’s own Las Mujeras Muralistas [the women muralists]
pioneered the “life affirming” tradition of mural art, aka, work which celebrates human
life through depictions of family, community, etc. They put San Francisco on the map a the international hot spot for public art.
I recently set out to meet San Franciscans who are contributing new murals to the city’s
landscape, to learn from them about the forms and functions of S.F.’s mural folklore.