Countries to Books

Globetrekking through Lit: Part 3!

Wide Sargasso SeaI haven't made much progress since my last update.

However, I did begin reading the short novel by Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea.

Rhys was born on the Caribbean island of Dominica. I was excited to stumble upon this novel while unpacking some books, because this was a country for which I thought I may have difficulty finding an author who was readily available. The excitement was short-lived almost immediately. As I started to get into the plot of the book, I realized I had absolutely no interest in the life of a mentally unstable woman with marital problems.

I researched the book and discovered it takes inspiration from Jane Eyre by Bronte. The main character in Rhys' novel becomes the "madwoman in the attic in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre," as stated by the publisher.Perhaps I need to read Jane Eyre to appreciate Wide Sargasso Sea and Antoinette Cosway's character, and to understand the importance of this novel in relation to Bronte's character.

However, I remained unimpressed even after finishing this book. I am left wondering why it has been so highly praised, and I feel like I am missing out on something!

Since then, I have invested my time in a book by the Sudanese author, Tayeb Salih, entitled Season of Migration to the North. This book is unfortunately not in our collection and I had to purchase it from Amazon. It starts off strong, thanks to the author's beautiful language, but there are many instances where I found obvious grammar and spelling mistakes.

The plot follows a mysterious man named Mustafa Sa'eed who allegedly murdered his wife, and who was the reason for the suicide of two different women. The story begins to plateau almost halfway through; however, the imagery in the book maintained my interest as the plot waned. The whole thing was kind of like sand slipping through my fingers -- it was beautiful to experience, sensual, but it slipped past me and suddenly I was left with nothing. I enjoyed this book; it was like a daydream, and because of this, I kept re-reading passages to try and find the substance.

If you have any suggestions for authors, I would love to hear them! Ideally I am looking for more authors from the continents of South America (minus Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil), and Asia (minus China). Also authors from Scandinavian countries.

I would especially be interested in any folk stories from this region. Please send your suggestions to janelle.ortiz@dc.gov.

Thanks for reading!

-- Janelle Ortiz, Library Associate