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.


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.



Plastic Does Not Make Perfect

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent ~Eleanor RooseveltUnknown.jpeg

It is no hidden concept that in most society’s around the world, women are perceived as being inferior to men. In Roland Rugero’s novel, Baho!, this theme is heavily portrayed throughout. In one instance, a woman is kicked out by her husband, due to him viewing her as being “too tall.” The scene then describes her husband replacing her with a shorter, and assumingly younger, woman. This image mirrors events that happen daily within our culture, as women continuously fear how their physical bodies will be perceived by men.

As well as this, Rugero highlights the societal depictions of women often times being viewed as objects, rather than as human beings. One particular scene describes a woman having just been raped, and rather than feeling concern for the woman, they are displeased that she has now been tainted, and is, therefore, less valuable to become a bride one day.


women_legs_object_chair.jpgIn his novel, Rugero represents women in a painfully, yet honest way, shedding the light of a problem that has been around for generations, and continues to thrive in our media today. By doing this, it is hoped that those who read it will see the ways in which women are treated and represented within this text and look for similar representations of it within our own culture.


In our culture, there is no doubt that women are becoming stronger–doing things that years ago were thought to never be possible. However, as represented in Baho!, there are still many hierarchical differences of gender within our society, leading to the underlying and everpresent insecurities that women hold in viewing themselves. As technology grows, and images of the ‘ideal woman’ carry on, women will continue to alter their appearances in the hopes of gaining the acceptance from others–continuously using plastic surgery, intense and unrealistic diets, and other unhealthy motives. From viewing this novel, each individual reader will recognize the problems within our society and be more apt to speaking up and out against these stereotypes.



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Raunchy, Rhythmic and Repetition: A Novel of Sounds

                                “When words fail, music speaks.” ~Shakespeare

Unknown.jpegFrom the music playing in the background while we grocery shop, to the music in our daily dose of Netflix, to that guy whistling next to you in line–music surrounds us daily.

But how about in our books, in the stories that we read?

Well, in most novels, no–there may not be many noticeable connections between books and music. Most all novels do, however, provide a kind of rhythm or tempo to help the story flow well. Many authors strive to focus more heavily on the aspect of ‘story,’ rather than the musical aspect of the writing.

In Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s novel, Well, in most novels, no–there may not be many noticeable connections between books and music. Many authors strive to focus more heavily on the aspect of ‘story,’ rather than the musical aspect of writing.


In Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s novel, Tram 83, however,  it is clear that the structural aspects of the piece were more of a priority than the elements of a plot.

One of Mujila’s main goals for this novel was to weave the sounds of jazz throughout the stories of different character’s lives. The novel was composed of long solo passages with intense and highly detailed language.

For example, in one chapter Mujila wrote the word “mournful,” for almost the entirety of a page (p 181). The reason he chose to write in this way to portray something called tremolo, meaning the wavering effect in a musical tone. By using the word “mournful” over and over again in this one long passage, it mimics the rapid movement that is so commonly present in jazz.

Another example of when Mujila uses tremolo within his rapid movement that is so commonly present in jazz. Another example of when Mujila uses tremolo within his

By using the word “mournful” over and over again in


this one long passage, it mimics the rapid movement that is so commonly present in jazz. Another example of when Mujila uses tremolo within his rapid movement that is so commonly present in jazz. Another example of when Mujila uses tremolo within his

Another example of when Mujila uses tremolo within his novel is when he writes long and highly detailed lists. The lists display this musical rhythm because while reading them you can practically hear the tempo as it continues–getting faster and slower, and faster and slower.

One can see, after reading Mujila’s Tram 83, that music can play a huge part in a book, shaping the way in which one reads, and interprets information. By writing in this individualistic way, Mujila is able to better connect the reader with music, in a way that is entirely different from the other ways in which they retrieve music within their daily lives.

If you love music and beautifully detailed scenes, check out Fiston Mujila’s unique novel Tram 83.


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Crossing Those Societal Norms

How do you define someone as being strong?


Is it their muscles? Or their courage and determination to succeed?

For women, this question becomes even harder to answer, as we aren’t generally determined by our levels of strength.

One of Yuri Herrera’s themes presented within her fictional novel, Signs Preceding the End of the World, translated by Lisa Dillman, discusses this idea of what makes a woman strong. Protagonist Makina is an independent woman, who’s not at all afraid to speak the truth. Throughout her journey to deliver a message from her mother to her brother—who immigrated to The United States—Makina undergoes a seemingly endless amount of unprecedented challenges. In every barrier that she faces, she takes it head-on with a surprising amount of persistence.

In only the second chapter, “The Water Crossing,” Makina crosses some pretty standard gender norms when she snaps a man’s finger back after he had “dropped his left hand onto his own left leg, languidly letting it sag onto the seat and brush her thigh” (31). Most women would either move to another seat, or try their best to ignore it, as our society pre-disposes us to be kind, polite, and gentle. Makina, however, is just the opposite of our culture’s pre-determined traits and characteristics for women.

Now, of course, I will say that it is the twenty-first century and our culture is a bit more accepting of the stronger and assertive-type of woman. However, it is still so deeply ingrained in our brains as women to act in the more submissive manner. This is why it’s so important to see strong female idols, such as Makina, in both fictional,635936159960490891347554447_35aa15ad6bc80fbe6e2d068f80378363

and real-life scenarios. This way, women can see that they too, can be strong, independent, and outspoken—that they too can cross and break those cultural boundaries.


Check out: Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, and experience the rarity of such a badass female lead in one fictional but fully alluring novel.


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But what really makes us humans?


Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, why are we so special?

Why can we, as humans, decide that a dog is different from us—that it is a pet. And why can I say that I want to take this dog, train it and keep it as my own possession for the remainder of its life?

One reason may be our own arrogance,        Image result for human training dog

believing that we are the highest element of the pyramid, the toughest of the tough and the best of the best, and therefore, should be able to have control over whatever we please to.

Unknown-2.jpegMany times though, animals aren’t the only ones questioned to be “inhuman,” and that natural human’s arrogance can spread a little too far. In fact, there are numerous cases in which humans are questioned in their rights to actually be labeled as human.

Ahmed Towfik’s futuristic novel, Utopia, is a great example of this crossing of that line of what makes us human. From the very beginning of part one’s title “Predator,” it was made clear that there was going to be some strong form Unknown-4           of hierarchy as the story progressed, and evidently, there was. The story moves between the two ideas of “predator” versus “prey,” symbolizing the dominant and lesser cultures within.

Though “Gaber” is one of the more compassionate characters within the novel, he and the people surrounding him are often times described in a rather animalistic way. For instance, his hair is described as being “matted,” a term usually used when discussing an animal’s fur. In this scene, his sister is referred to as being “an animal with consumption” (Towfik, 97). Then, Towfik writes, “In spite of all of that, he walked like a human being and talked like a human being…he didn’t throw himself at my feet begging me to cut his arm off” loosely tying him back to humanity, though the term “begging” is still one that is alluding to a dog (Towfik, 97). From this, it’s pretty clear how belittled Gaber’s character is from the narrator’s.

Why do all this, one may ask? Why doesn’t Towfik just state that the poor are seen as a much lesser people than the wealthy are?

Well, aside from every writer’s natural giddiness for seeing how many symbols and allusions they can fit into a text, there’s also an admiration for making the reader stop and think: hey, what could the author have meant by that?

Every writer has their own goal for why they write their stories in the way that they do. Towfik’s may have been to make the reader pause and see the similarities of our own people in our own world; to find those overlapping images and hierarchy behaviors and patterns. In doing this—making us stop and think—who knows? Maybe we could come up with some suggestions to better and change our own ways of living.

After all, we’re all human—for richer, for poorer, with light-skinned or not—we all deserve to be treated on the same playing field as one another.




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