Have you ever read a book, piece of poetry, or article that you just didn’t understand? Or maybe you were reading something and kind of blocked out paragraphs or areas that were written in a language that you just don’t understand. In Uroyoàn Noel’s book, Buzzing Hemisphere, I tend to do this more often than not.
Buzzing Hemisphere has English and Spanish written side by side, or sharing a page, sometimes translating to the same meaning, sometimes not. While I’m reading, I usually skip over the parts that I don’t understand, simply because it’s just “noise” or static. I do this for no other reason than I am horrible at translating Spanish to English. Yes, I understand it and I can read it, but I’m extremely slow and time consuming. The hardest poem for me to read from Noel’s book was: Materia Gris | Gray Matter starting on page 29.
So how can you become a more efficient reader in a language different than your native language? This website gives 7 tips as to how to read in another language. Their tips and tricks seem helpful, but it really just takes time, patience, and practice.
In Tram 83, there is no doubt that there is corruption present. Corruption is defined as:
“the misuse of entrusted power for private gain.” In the novel, Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, the trouble of corruption is portrayed time and time again. A quote that stood out to me from the text is as follows:
“You write an epic poem about the hairstyle of the president’s wife, they give you a house; a monologue rehashing the dreams of the Minister of Divination, clairvoyance, and prophecies, they buy you a trip to Venice; a novel about the president’s childhood, they appoint you Minister of Agriculture and Bovine Farming…”
This quote nods, not only to favoritism, but governmental corruption. Because of the emphasis on corruption throughout this novel, I was curious to see what “real-life” Africa corruption was like.
According to the Naij website, researchers conducted a study from 2014-2015 on the level of corruption and perception of the current situation by citizens of twenty-eight African countries. Overall, citizens of the countries concluded that the government is not doing enough to overcome corruption. More than half of the participants said that corruption has increased within the last year and continues to grow. A sad, but true, statistic gathered from survey data, was that those of higher income are less likely to be demanded to give a bribe than those of lower income.
This video shows the most corrupt countries in the world.
“Makina could never be sure of what she’d dreamed, in the same way that she couldn’t be sure a place was where the map said it was until she’d gotten there” (33).
In Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, the protagonist, Makina, strives to make it across the border from Mexico to the United States. Throughout the novel there are multiple times that she is let down. This relates to the concept of “unsettled space.” Unsettled space is a concept that is difficult for many people, including myself, to wrap our brains around. What is unsettled space? In my opinion, it’s an area where you have created this image in your mind of what it’s supposed to look and feel like. More often than not, we’re disappointed by the reality of our expectations. This plays into what Makina is expecting when she embarks on her journey to America. As she first clears the border, she sees what she thinks is a pregnant woman in the distance, but is disappointed and shocked when she gets closer and discovers it is a dead body. On the contrary, when Makina sees snow for the first time, she is able to put her unsettled space into perspective, hopefully matching, if not exceeding, her expectations.
There are positives and negatives to the concept of unsettled spaces. One can have their expectations exceeded of a place they’ve never been to when they finally get there. Or, like Makina, one can have their expectations and dreamed torn from what they built in their minds. It’s all about perspective and understanding.