Friday, September 3, 2010

naughty summer

I admit it: i neither finished the terrible enfants nor approached cortazar.
instead, I dived into a guilt -free summer read , Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and I picked it up solely for the cover.I fell for it like a fly for a neon light or a wasp for sugary water in a plastic bottle( it really works, I've seen it this summer).
Bright orange background cradling a beautifully drawn profile of a woman,cartoon style, black pencil, twirls and curls everywhere.
The guilt wasn't there because, first of all it was a summer vacation and you are supposed to read caught-by-the-cover books, secondly because the story is about a young girl from Nigeria who is a refugee in England and has to deal with the fact that her status is not recognized nor legalized. The plot is not about her finding true love so that she can stay, nor that she has to solve a crime becoming a cool Nigerian detective in London, although that would make it a good one too. The other reason why I read it, is because once I turned the book to the back to read the synopsis, I only found this explanation: we won't tell you what the book is about, you have to find out for yourself. Intriguing enough for me.
The author is English, he also writes for the Guardian, and he really took his time to research the condition of the immigration centers around London. The subject is very hot over here right now,it seems, and maybe that is why the American editors felt compelled to change its original title, The other hand, into Little Bee ( the name of the main character)?
the other interesting thing is that a male writer chose not one but two female voices as the carriers of the narration, so he put himself not only into the head of a British woman, which could be considered a realistic ambition, but also into the mind of a young Nigerian girl, and as an Italian young woman I can say he did an excellent work.
good book.
after consuming that happy discovery on an airplane crossing over a continent and an ocean, I landed in Italy and felt compelled to go back to my origins and pick up a native of my home town: Baricco. You can find him translated and published here too. I read one of his earlier books entitled City, and what I find amusing is that the characters bear funny and tacky english names and the places described recognizably belong to the American landscape; at one point one of the characters, the unforgettable Miss Shatzy , writes a western that to an unwestern mind like mine seemed incomparably beautiful. This writer too did an excellent work placing his mind into foreign lands.
Crazy idea on a last note: shouldn't big,significant,classic literature be considered human heritage that belongs to the entire population of the world,like water, like health,like natural resources, nullifying therefore the petty efforts of little financial gurus to profit from it? And of course, we the people, would be more than glad to take it upon ourselves to share the costs of production?