Book of Clouds is the first novel by Mexican American author Chloe Aridjis. The book is about a Mexican woman named Tatiana who won a national language contest and was awarded a year of study in Berlin. She stays in Berlin after her scholarship is up, living a fairly solitary life and working odd jobs to get by. She eventually lands a job transcribing the dictations of a local historian. Through this job, she meets other people and has the opportunity to explore the darker parts of Berlin.
Aridjis is a master at detail. Much of the novel takes place in Tatiana’s head in the form of her observations about Berlin and its inhabitants. She often creates narratives for the strangers and foreign areas of the city she encounters. For instance:
With the division of the city, its public transportation system, like everything else, was cut in two…The stations became ghosts at places where the city was not neatly split and Western trains had to cross sections of the East in order to continue their journey to other destinations in the west…As for West Berliners passing through in their trains, many of them, over time, became desensitized and stopped looking out. Others felt like Orpheus crossing the Underworld, forced to continue on a path without looking back. It was an eerie experience, Weiss said, to travel through this hushed realm where even the lights had muted to a whisper.
Aridjis brings Berlin and its dark history to life. What struck me most about this book was its ethereal quality; reading it is very much like walking through a fog. It’s a very slow, quiet book that takes its time to develop, but it remains strange and amusing enough to keep the reader’s interest piqued. I look forward to reading whatever Aridjis writes in the future.
Publisher/Year: Grove, 2009
Source: Online purchase
The Amelia Bloomer Project has released the 2010 Amelia Bloomer list of the best feminist books for readers ages birth through 18.
I’m glad to see Yes Means Yes! : visions of female sexual power & a world without rape made the list. It’s a great book (and one I’ll be re-reading next month). Another title that caught my eye was Mike Madrid’s Supergirls: fashion, feminism, fantasy, and the history of comic book heroines.
So. What caught your eye?
Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf is a choreopoem that was first performed on Broadway in 1976. Its seven characters are all black women identified only by the color of their clothing (lady in brown, lady in blue, lady in orange, etc), and each live in different cities across the United States.
The book is full of powerful prose, and the women each take turns talking about the difference experiences they face, such as love, rape, domestic violence, virginity, and youth.
I first read excerpts of this book in undergrad, and I’m glad that I came back and read For Colored Girls in its entirety. I’m not usually a fan of poetry, but Shange’s work is captivating; I would love to see a performance of this someday. It’s a pretty easy read in terms of length (the book is only about 80 pages long), but some might find some of the topics—particularly rape and domestic violence—difficult to get through.
In terms of its place in the womanist/feminist canon, this one’s definitely a must-read.
Publisher/Year: Scribner, 1997 (Reprint)
If you’re looking for the main Feminist Texican blog, fear not! Just click here.
I decided to create a second reading-based blog just because it’s easier to organize. I’m participating in several reading challenges this year, and rather than clog up the main blog with non-feminist/Latin@ book reviews (and rather than frustrate the crap out of myself trying to organize the book page on the main blog accordingly), it’s just easier to start a separate reading blog and link it to the main one.
I’ll still be posting feminist/Latin@-related reviews on the main site, especially if they’re review copies!
At some point, I promise figure out all that newfangled technology so everything looks all nice and pretty on my own domain. Until then, I will continue working from this janky setup. 😉