Or, Who’s Loving You Now
In an incident that I learnt about over the weekend, I found myself in one of those odd situations where something happening across the oceans resonated with something in my little world. So of course I’ll focus on the thing happening halfway across the world - the citation conversation in the wake of the New York Times’ recent publication of their Haiti scoop(?). As a person who once considered themselves a blogger who wrote about history, and who spent hours scouring dusty (exciting!) archives, it’s been strange to see how contested something that I thought settled is. There’s no denying that a lot of things go into the soup that is narrative stories but it also makes me feel a way to consider that the history of this Black majority country is treated like this. Every time a history is painted as “untold” “unaccounted” and so on, one wonders who the authors are seeking to speak to and, well, just look at Twitter for the arguments and counter-arguments.
All this stuff can get really involving and it’s far from boring, that’s for sure. So it was something to read this article in praise of boredom that a wonderful person shared in our group chat. Paired with this piece on working through Covid-19 that resonated with my wage work bestie, it felt like a loud message from the Universe to slow down. Between the news one is reading, the work one has to do to provide the things they (and their loved ones!) need, even rest can feel like a chore, let alone making space for boredom. As I read the article on boredom, I tried to think of the last time I was bored and couldn’t - maybe the short walk from the bus stop till my home on a day when I’d forgotten my headphones? I’m curious if you have any mindfulness, or better yet boredom, practice that you find works for you (walking and knitting, often suggested, would only act as staging grounds for audiobook listening; as they do now) - please share them in the comments!
I went to see art over the weekend with Don - we made a video that’s on the BookTube channel! - and it was so lovely to be back in this space with a fave. The last time I was there was a year ago and it was a strange balm to have someone whose love I’m always certain of with me this time. As always, I imagined some pieces as book covers and I found myself telling Don I hope some of our favourite artists’ work is picked up by the revamped Africa Writers’ Series. I’d be so excited to have a moment in our Art Book Series where we discuss modern book covers alongside the books they front.
I’m in a reading slump - that’s it, that’s the statement. While I finished 2 books last week, something feels off and this video from Jyotsna (a BookTube genre, for those of us who’ve been around a bit) came at just the right time. I know it’s a recurring topic around here (and I joke about it in my video with Don) but reading is my top way of combating boredom (and much more besides!) and even when I’m told to be OK with boredom it takes quite a bit to be OK with slogging through books. That said, I finished one comic book (Go with the Flow by Karen Schneemann and Lily Williams) and started 3 others (Year of the Rabbit by Tian Veasna and translated by Helge Dasche, Oksi by Mari Ahokoivu and translated by Silja-Maaria Aronpuro as well as Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh) after On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden went back to the library unfinished so I hope this week sees some progress due to the calming effect comic books seem to have on me. I also listened to This Book Betrays My Brother by Kagiso Lesego Molope (narrated by Jacqui Du Toit) and Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts (narrated by the author; discovered thanks to the author being featured on the Therapy for Black Girls podcast) and read one (1) physical book - The Invisible Weevil by Mary Karooro Okurut - which I’d have finished if it wasn’t for this pesky slump.
Last, but definitely not least, the regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize were announced and a writer from Eswatini won for the first time ever. Per usual, one can read about the entry but not read the entry and (Allah forgive me) this always irritates me. I know we’ll usually read them in Granta in the lead up to the announcement of the global winner but I still wonder what it would cost everyone involved to put together a selection of each region’s shortlisted stories. This is an honest question (for all I know it’s a question of rights and so on) so if you know something, please say something.
OK, one more thing: the Women’s Prize winner will be announced on Friday (edit, 1/6/22: the winner will be announced on 15th June) and I feel confused by my lack of…shall we say…concern regarding who wins and who ended up on the shortlist. I’ve spoken before about how lists are a discovery mechanism for me but I’ve not even attempted to read the long- or short-list as in previous years. Maybe the slump has been going on for a while? Remember me in your thoughts when you think about reading :)
I hope you have a great week and a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!