Or, Who Is This For?
It hasn't been a week since we last spoke but I have more than one thing to say so let's do this (in a pomodoro or less, as we originally envisioned it) —
It seems Christmas is upon us, with lovers of the season sharing their favourite films. Last week, I watched A Kismet Christmas and enjoyed being immersed in what might be the first literary-themed Christmas film I've ever watched. I was led to it by talk of libraries via Twitter and it was lovely to see a relationship that had books at its heart. Basically, what I wish Book Lovers by Emily Henry had been.
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I'd hoped to go for one of the Placemaking Nairobi events on Saturday but I ended up at the Jamia Mosque Open Day instead. Well, "ended up" doesn't do it justice because I left home with a scarf for my head and a lesso for my bottom half in my bag so I'd be ready. The Open Day was quite the experience - the last time I was in such a gendered space was in high school, and it was interesting to be in what I thought of as a "working mosque" (i.e. not one oriented towards tourists)
Post-Mosque, YB and I went to the screening of the film Wanjeri was showing. While we only caught the last moments, it was lovely to finally be in the Eastlands Library. One of the founders of the organization that revamped the library - Book Bunk - happened to be around and I am glad I had the chance to speak to her about their work. Speaking of the films, there'll be another screening this weekend so consider attending - the conversation after was a delight.
I finished two books since I last wrote to you - Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley & a parallel read of Men Don't Cry by Faïza Guène (translated by Sarah Ardizzone; read by Fajer Al-Kaisi). The way class showed up in both those books (which I talk about in the latest video) was interesting. The former, featuring non-immigrant Black people in the US, offered a contrast to the immigrant Arab characters in the latter when it came to class. Class always intrigues me, as you know, because so much of it is unspoken despite how big a factor in people's lives it is. Circling back to Book Bunk - their fundraising gala, with tickets at 20,000 KES (about 165 USD at today's rate), are a classed good I found myself in a conversation about recently. The imagined ticket buyer is clearly a person for whom a $150+ ticket is worth their while but that's a certain sort of person in a country where so many earn less than $5 a day. To wit, would the people who use the libraries be the people envisioned as its donors?
In the latest Maktaba Menenos video, I talk about starting a Friends of Nairobi Area Library group (watch from this part, then watch it all) and I'm happy to share that there's now a WhatsApp group. I'm hopeful that we'll have done a few things by this time next year and I invite you, as always, to come along for the ride.
As ever, please write back to me and tell me what books you’re reading or looking forward to reading this week — it’s always a great time talking about books.
Enjoy the rest of the week and have a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!
PS: Swimming resumes on 12th November