Or, Sin Maleta
As I mentioned in the last entry, last week involved some travel. I very optimistically thought I’d read a stack of books during this time, forgetting that intense wage work is the reason I am away from home. Arriving here also meant a lost suitcase and it threw me off in a massive way (it’ll probably be waiting for me when I get home) - I spent time buying clothes and not attending the book fair the city I was originally in was hosting. It’s going to take a while for me to recover from all the strong feelings - much much longer than however long it’ll take for the suitcase to be restored to me (if it ever is).
That said, I put in a little reading on the way here - Aminatta Forna’s The Window Seat: Notes from a Life in Motion (read by the author) was, like all collections, a mixed bag but a fairly good read on the whole. I also read two graphic memoirs - Everything Is Teeth by Evie Wyld and illustrated by Joe Sumner and Guts by Raina Telgemeier. I have watched quite a lot of BookTube videos since I arrived here so there goes the reading report at the top. The thing that has become evident is that I definitely bit off more than I could chew thinking I could combine being away from home during a time of intense wage work with tearing through books. Not carrying my e-reader didn’t help.
I went for a hike on Monday and carried Jackie Karuti’s first monograph (available via Circle Art Gallery & Goethe Institut, Nairobi as well as other locations across the world) to the top so I could take a photo and show all the places it had been. I was too winded when I got there to do anything other than drink water and take in the views. We talked about books on the way up, though - Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker, Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford, My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor and Personal History by Katharine Graham. I’ve enjoyed the book conversations I’ve had here - recommending books and bookshops to each other, for instance - and they have been a balm during what has been a tough week on some fronts.
Silence continues as a theme. The last week or so has seen me have offline conversations about how we speak about literature by people who are underrepresented in the global scene. It was highlighted by a chat I had about Rafiki on Lesbian Visibility Day with a colleague who created room for me to talk about my complicated feelings about a film loosely based on a short story I really enjoyed (Jambula Tree by Monica Arac de Nyeko, available here). I continue to be curious about how to make these conversations possible or if speaking about the fact that we’re grappling with them is a significant part of the work.
In the face of power outages, a lot of wage work and my trip, I’m yet to release last week’s video. As always, I reminded myself to extend grace to the person behind these videos, these newsletter entries. I hope to put it out before this week is up, if only to maintain something like momentum.
Some Mike in the Bookish World News: Amyn recommends this newsletter! As does the awesome Yah Yah Scholfield. I’m really grateful for their generosity and the new audiences that I get to meet and learn with (hello!).
I started reading Music Is History by Questlove on my way to my current location but it didn’t stick for some reason. Neither did Crip Kinship : The Disability Justice & Art Activism of Sins Invalid by Shayda Kafai whose dense material is a bit more than I can currently handle. I started on Vladimir by Julia May Jonas (narrated by Rebecca Lowman), it went back to the library (I haven’t had much alone time) but I just got the e-book and audiobook so hopefully I’ll finish it in the coming weeks. Top of the agenda for what days are left this week is a blended read of Vagabonds! by Eloghosa Osunde (narrated by Arit Okpo, Atta Otigba, Eloghosa Osunde, Ifeyinwa Unachukwu, Obongjayar, Sheila Chukwulozie). I might also be able to start Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson (narrated by Edoardo Ballerini) which comes highly recommended by Shawn.
Once this week ends, I don’t go back to wage work till Thursday thanks to the back to back holidays that Kenya has lined up so I hope to report a few books on the 9th. As always - grace!
I hope you have a great week and a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!