In the novel, Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, the theme regarding borders is very much prominent over any other theme. In the novel there are two ideas shaped around the idea of borders. One being the border between Mexico and United States and the other being the border between genders.

Being a Hispanic women myself in the United States I relate to the struggles the protagonist goes through. Maybe this is me being biased on the stereotypes I choose to listen to but I am a firm believer that most men believe hispanic women are “easy.” I can name an amount of times I have been classified as “easy” because of my culture and if I fire back at a prude man in the streets I am considered “fiesty” when simply I don’t want to be cat called and do not feel I am worthy of being cat called, I am worth more.

“They said he’d offed a woman, among other things; left her by the side of the road in an oil drum on orders from Mr. Aitch. Making had asked him if it was true back when he was courting her, and all he said was Who cares if I did or not, what counts is I please ’em all. Like it was funny.”

This quote supports the idea of how the men in the book and in real life do not respect women, especially hispanic women. The way the man in the story speaks of how he can please a women so easily makes it seem as if he was over powering to women which sickens me. As a woman this offends me a lot but it also enlightens me because I feel comforted when its apparent in the public eye and I appreciate the author for writing on this topic in such a dynamic way.

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Disturbance

“Disturbances mark our entire life, whichever way you look at it. The most important thing is to disturb life itself without letting it fall to pieces” (Rugero, 91).

I find this quote intriguing, for in the Translators Notes at the end of Roland Rugero’s novel, Utopia, it provides a bit of post colonialism history. The way in which marginalized minority groups have had to fight and demonstrate for their power and for their voice. Being that, it is something of which we too are fighting for this day.

The quote provides parallelism – at least for me, the way in which set ideals and even legislation, are meant to be challenged. For most of colonialism history shows ways in which Whites have set themselves as the patriarchy, as the saviors, as the ones who wield power. They established a system of oppression and created mass genocides upon populations of people, further demonstrating their power, and their ability to do as they please.

The ways in which they have established systems is through forced oppression, by instituting their own form of government and capital punishment. For the people in this book too – use the death sentence, but in their case they use it for cases of rape. Trying to find ways to justify the actions taken out against women, while as in the U.S. we justify rape and console the attackers – rather than the victims themselves. For the death penalty and incarceration is saved for those of ethnic and racial background, they justify it by containing them in areas of imprisonment and continue doing so by taking away their basic right of suffrage. We have no true system of justice, for the government justifies their actions against minorities for the sake of Whites, to ensure their majority and consolidate their power within.

When minorities try to change the system, those who do not agree with their beliefs or viewpoints are disturbed, for they do not understand the true severity. Rather they live in a world that is made for them, rather than having to fight a world that tries to segregate them. We wish to change the ways in which government acts upon us, to change the way in which other groups are marginalized, for we know the difference of oppression and privilege. It is a privilege to go to school to educate oneself, but it is a right to vote. See the difference?

For the disturbance that they feel  is because we are trying to change the dynamics of the system, we wish to challenge it, and because of that, they are disturbed and no longer see our perspective because it would no longer work to benefit or aid them. This is the reason why I chose this picture that I found from an article on the Odessy, for it demonstrates that a change in the system will work to create a more even field for all. That it will aid all, but instead of that – some people do not the need, or rather see problems within our own government. For they are the ones on the receiving end of white privilege, but let it be known – our voices will go heard for the millions, our hearts will never stop beating for the sake of the cause, and we will never stop trying to fight for our justice that we so need and finally deserve.

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What Did We Discover

For this blog post, I wanted to write an End-Of-Year-Reflection. I feel like this resonates with me the most because whenever I finish a course, I like to reflect on what I have learned. It isn’t really something that I choose to do for myself, it really is something that a lot of teachers have made me do. I feel like this gives me the chance to really think about what I have learned, especially with respect to how I have grown, and how I look at the world based on what I have learned. Image result for learning gif

In this course, I honestly didn’t know what I had signed up for when I chose the course, Genres In Translation. In fact, I think it is kind of sad that I didn’t know what I was getting into, maybe I thought we would be reading different variations of each book. Something like reading several interpretations and then figuring out which one is the real answer as to what the author wanted. Image result for translating  gif

When I first began my college career, I wanted to be a teacher. Through my initial classes in the liberal studies department, I realized where education was going in the aspect of inclusivity. Of course, through this course, I was able to read a lot of books that provided insight to the world, to many worlds that I was not yet aware of. I feel as though this class allowed me to gather a great appreciation for authors from other countries. In fact, after reading Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera first in this class, my Poetry Writing class had a featured poem by the very same author. Normally, I wouldn’t have thought much of it, something that I accept as a slight flaw. However, because I knew his writings previously, I was able to understand a lot of the larger issues that he stood on, and I knew that he was going to utilize humor in some way. 

So, in summation of my year in this class, I would have to say that I really enjoyed the real-life concepts that it brought to my attention, aspects that I can see in my life. An appreciation for writers from other countries has really grown within me and I really hope to venture out and find other authors like the ones that we have read from this year. 

“it’s the final countdown”

When I first saw the words “Literary Genres in Translation” I resorted back to elementary school and thought about the words separately to figure out what the heck this class was going to be about. Obviously a literature class, but “genres in translation”? Oka,y so works from other places? I had honestly not read many works from authors that were translated into English, at least not consciously. I had read kids books like The Little Prince and The Thief Lord when I was younger without thinking about how they were originally written in other languages. I guess thats the privilege I have of having access to so much literature that the origins of it get lost. This class attempted to teach me the origins of translated literature and its importance in our society.

I enjoyed the books we read in class. Particularly Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik and Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera. These books are proof that there is talent out there that is just waiting to be found. These books also showed that it is not only American writers that can get into the the Sci-Fi game or have fascinating mythology to be explored.

I think the biggest take away from this class is that it made me think more about what I read. I usually look at the top 10 list of a bookstore and see what sounds interesting. I have never thought about the small publishing companies that make it their mission to publish little known books from other countries. What if I’m missing out on a potential favorite book just because its not widely known? It’s not the author’s fault that this country thinks about ME ME ME all the time. I’m glad we read such great books in class because I now want to explore what else is out there other than the American perspective. How do people view us? What kind of teen experiences do other countries have? These are the questions I’m sure people have answered in their own language but I’ve been too busy thinking about my own view.

Thank you Professor Baker for introducing great readings and providing a good atmosphere in class. See you next semester!

Coming to an End

Coming to an end of a semester, I have come crossed many novels from different backgrounds, genres, and cultures. Tram 83, Utopia, and Signs Preceding the Ends of the World and Baho all showed light upon their issues and I was exposed to a new culture within each novel.
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One of my favorite novels that caught my attention from beginning to end was Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera. It was a controversial topic on borders between the Mexico and U.S and the journey of the main character Makina. This novel made me feel emotions and compassion towards the whole situation of having borders and the struggle those people face trying to come over to the U.S for a better lifestyle.
This novel brought light to the issues of border and how it might limit opportunity and the risks people take and the readers are also able to relate it back to our own society.
This course made me read novels I normally wouldn’t pick. I tend to stick with novels or authors that I know or heard about but this course had a selection of African and Mexican literature. It showed me to not judge a book by its cover. Take a risk and pick up a new book and see how it is.
We should be educated on many different novels, genres, and cultures. The more we read the more knowledge and power we have.

Dystopian Genre: Not Far from Reality?

The dystopian genre has always been a popular concept reproduced throughout different eras within media and literature. The envisioning of a depraved totalitarian environment that is under the guise of a “perfect” society piques everybody’s imagination. After continually reading or watching novels or movies and acclimating to

the dystopian genre, the formula for creating dystopian works becomes clear – demolish government and let humanity scramble for power. Such methods are generally achieved through global-scaled catalysts, such as wars, epidemics, invasion by alien beings, and (my personal favorite) technology acquiring sentience and revolting against humanity. However, even after regurgitating the same formula over and over, why hasn’t the dystopian genre “died out”? Ahmed Khaled Towfik’s novel, Utopia, is created by the same formula seen in other works, however, it contains a major aspect that sets Utopia apart from others – it is CLOSELY related to reality.

Utopia is set in the year 2023 in a US-marine protected colony in Egypt. The colony houses and protects wealthy and affluent individuals, or Utopians, against the Utopia .jpgimpoverished populace called “Others.” The catalyst for the dystopian future is contributed to the United States producing a new super-fuel that stumps the Middle East’s petroleum reserves. After having their sole trade of income become worthless, the Middle East’s middle class disintegrates and results in the economy’s downfall. This setting is not far from the truth. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the unemployment rate in Egypt was increased from around 9% to 12% in 2011. CAPMAS reported that the economy’s negative impact is contributed to the 2011 uprising “that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak drove tourists and foreign investors away, drying up foreign reserves.” The employment drop coincides with the economy plunge in Utopia and could even be seen as a prediction made by Towfik himself considering he first published Utopia (in Arabic) in 2009.

Another ‘coincidence’ is made in recent news by NY Times. NY Times reports “The International Monetary Fund approved a $12 billion loan for Egypt on Friday [2016].”  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an International organization located in Washington, D.C. with the goal of supporting countries in economic need. The symbolization of the US Marines protecting the wealthy in Utopia shows similarity with the I.M.F.’s loan to Egypt in reality.

“It’s a positive trend that unemployment is going down, especially because most of the unemployed are youth, and this means that we’re not too far from reaching a single-digit rate.” – Reham ElDesoki, an economist at Arqaam Capital

Utopia isn’t the only work that reflects reality considering there are various novels that share the same similarities. But I believe Utopia’s plot resembles the economic state within Egypt to a more immediate degree in light of Towfik predicting the event long before 2009. If we take a step back and glance at the genre as a whole, we can reflect the fascination towards dilapidating cities, depraved human nature, and totalitarian system evokes a certain inherent fear we share towards our future.

 

Let’s Stop Pretending…

While Baho!, written by Roland Rugero, mirrors how women are portrayed, Signs Preceding The End of The World, authored by Yuri Herrera, expresses a female character that should be modeled as the ideal symbol for women within our society. Though Makina, the protagonist of Herrera’s novel, is indeed a strong-willed and bold young woman, her character does not often times exist within this culture. More so, women are raised to act and be the most beautiful version of themselves as possible, praised when they put on makeup or go on a diet and lose weight. Both young girls and boys are taught to act a certain way from the moment they are born. From Disney movies to magazines–it is understandable as to why the stereotypes of men and women continue to remain in place.

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Within Baho!, these viewpoints of women are clear throughout. Women are balked at, and, occurences of women being raped appear again and again. In Signs Preceding The End of The World, Makina is continuously faced with sexist comments and inappropriate actions. The only difference, however, is that in many of them, Makina stands up for herself as not only a woman but a person as well.

Though different, these two authors represented women in very impactful ways. The expectations for women today are unobtainable, making it very confusing and even dangerous for younger generations, as they are trying to look like all of their “role models” Today, the topic of being brave and speaking up against sexist actions or words is huge, and hopefully, from reading novels and other work’s such as these, young girls will focus less on the way Disney portrays women and more on characters such as Makina.

The “Ideal Woman” does not exist, let’s stop pretending

and accept ourselves and others for who we/they are.

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Studying Literature Through Translation

It was quite interesting to see how literature was studied differently through the lens of being translated from a wholly different language. Such works have many different challenges accompanying them.

For one, there is a cultural aspect that is often loss because of a change in a language. Translated works can be as close as they need to in order to get the same story and themes across to the people reading them but without the original language, it will not be the same. Students such as I might have had to deal with the additional question of “Was this exactly how the author intended it or is somewhat different because the translator might have had to tweak the wording a bit to make it fit into our language. Language is very complex and because of that, a phrase that might be translated as close as possible can lose the weight it was intentionally given, and this is mostly true in literature.

There is also the added element of the translator and what he or she might bring to the prose. An article called “Why Translation Matters”, by Edith Grossman reflects that translating work for any medium is an art in and of itself and that the translators can also be classified as writers as they are given the task to decide how a translation fits any given work.

Throughout this class, I often found myself questioning whether or not the author of the original work meant to say the same thing that the translator put into the translated novel and how close it was to the original work compared to other translations for other countries. This added question added more depth to the class than I originally thought would be there and it definitely helped me think a lot about how literature from other places in the world can be.

– Bhavin Bhavsar

 

Sources

Grossman, Edith. “Why Translation Matters.” Words Without Borders, Apr. 2010, http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/article/from-why-translation-matters

Forever a Women or Forever an Object?

Women have always been just objects to men. Women are adored for their bodies and idolized from sex. But, has anyone ever thought there is more to a women than just their body?

Obviously, some men do not think in this way but, then again some do. Two novels come to mind when thinking of the mistreatment of women, Baho! and Tram 83. But, what do these novels have in common other than the mistreatment of women? A male dominated society.

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In Baho!, women are stared at, raped, flirted with and many other actions that can make a women feel as if they do not matter or if they are nothing better than just a body. Men in the novel honestly just do not care, they pretend to care. But, that is most likely the extent to which they will be “caring” for  women.

In Tram 83 most women are prostitutes. The common saying “Do you have the time?” is something that almost every women uses to get the attention of a man. Tram 83 is also in a male dominated society.

These two novels have a lot of similarities in women being lesser than men. In my opinion both of these novels being that way play an important part in learning why women are treated like this. There is the obvious that some men feel they are superior to women. But also the fact that men think that all a women has to offer is their body. In Tram 83 that is very apparent when these women are walking around basically asking for attention and getting denied by some.

humanWomen may always be just objects but, maybe they won’t. It depends on the person and their views of this situation. As far as the novels their opinions are very straight forward. The mistreatment of women is a huge problem in western culture, and around the world.

 

The Lost Family

 

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In Baho! by Ronald Rugero the character Nyamuragi was a mute young man who did not trust the people around him. Unfortunately he was mistaken for a rapist and was sentenced to death, being a mute Nyamuragi could not defend himself. Communication seems to be a big thing in this novel as the people in Kanya value the words that are spoken from each other. However, despite this there are big problems in communication between the men and women in Kanya.

The biggest thing that would shock the reader is that Nyamuragi actually had someone that could save him but that person chose not to until later. “And all of those fine people, still did not know the precise reason for their gathering (Baho! 72).” This was said by Jonathan, the lost uncle of Nyamuragi as he was watching his nephew be beaten. However, Jonathan chose to do nothing as his nephew suffered, that it something that the reader would find hard to understand. The weird thing is that he riled the people he knew that Nyamuragi was victim of the people of Kanya to purify themselves and their land. A great example is an elderly woman that follows the people but she remains a bystander. She knows that the people of Kanya have had enough but she is not willing to help Nyamuragi. Jonathan did help his nephew, but was it a good time?

Could Jonathan have done this sooner, he only found out and was also present during the time Nyamuragi was being punished. “We only discover our kin in difficult circumstances (Baho! 88).” Jonathan did have time to save Nyamuragi but he was afraid of being punished himself. In the end I found the ending very abrupt it reminded me of the knight in shining armor that comes out of nowhere and saves the day. Was there purpose to the ending that Rugero wrote or was it a way to have the reader evaluate how communication during horrible times will affect the perception of the people living it? Also, is there a right time to help the people who are close to you or do you have to wait?