Babar and Celeste

images-1.jpgI have freely stolen from Wikipedia to introduce readers to Babar (my apologies to those readers who have small children and are well acquainted with Babar … and if not, why not?).

Babar the Elephant is a fictional character who first appeared in 1931 in the French children’s book Histoire de Babar by Jean de Brunhoff.

The book is based on a tale that Brunhoff’s wife, Cecile, had invented for their children. It tells of a young elephant Babar whose mother is killed by a hunter. Babar escapes, and in the process leaves the jungle, visits a big city, and returns to bring the benefits of civilization to his fellow elephants. Just as he returns to his community of elephants, their king dies from eating a bad mushroom. Because of his travels and civilization, Babar is appointed king of the elephant kingdom. He marries his cousin, and they subsequently have children and teach them valuable lessons.

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The Artist of Disappearance

images-1.jpgThe Museum of Final Days, on my reading list for a long time so I was quite pleased to find it in Desai’s collection of three novellas titled, The Artist of Disappearance.

Knowing the history of the Empire and it’s subjugation of India, the themes of decay and regret are not so subtly used as the focus of this book.

The Museum of Final Journeys presents a lush, green world of abandoned plantations. A minor government officer, the unnamed narrator, unhappily is responsible for administering a unfamiliar rural district. When asked to assist in the continuance of an old, decaying estate made up of the accumulated trinkets and oddities of a long forgotten age, the young officer recognizes the dissolution and melancholy of an old, forgotten past.

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Arrow of God

AchebeReading literature from around the world is both entertaining and educational, even if it is fiction. We are seeing more and more writing coming out of Africa and I find that, despite the grass houses and curious religious activities, the life in Africa is often very similar to the life in the United States. No, few of us have a sacred python living in the rafters of our living room, but what about that Virgin Mary statue on the bureau or that USC pennant on the wall? We may not equate such fetishisms with religion, but maybe we should. Stop and think about it.

Chinua Achebe is definitely one of the most recognized contemporary Africa authors. His first novel, Things Fall Apart, is often the only book people read by an Africa author. I notice that Achebe is becoming common on college reading lists so I expect we will be seeing far more literature from Africa. But I invite anyone to make a simple search through African literature and gather up many newer authors to give variety and enlightenment to your reading list.

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We Need New Names

DarlingAs a part of the 2014 reading challenge to make more readers familiar with African authors and African themes, I have added several titles to my reading list and, to date, have read three or four of those titles. The most recent was We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. This one you should read: it’s the author’s first novel and isn’t great literature but it does tell a good story that covers a lot of themes.

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