Storytelling with a beat
I've had this sense for a while now, that I need some deep rooted cultural enrichment. I mean, I consume a lot of good music, art and literature but there's a whole world of unexplored territory out there.
As a result of my new found love for Africa and all things African, I made a commitment to read widely including books written in other languages (mainly Sesotho & Afrikaans because my reading skills in other languages leaves much to be desired. Is this terrible? Yes. Am I working on this? Also yes)
Reading widely not only enhances your repertoire it also broadens your views and makes you a 'fuller', more emphathetic, more robust human being.
I just finished reading M Mahanke's "Tutudu ha e patwe". It is a story (written in Sesotho) centred around the lives of residents in a small and lively town of Thabure. It's about hardship, confusion, leadership, courage and finding love amidst the scourge of loneliness. Despite all the meaningful lessons it's also a very easy read....an insanely hilarious one at that.
There's something so refreshing and fulfulling about reading a book in your own language. It's ever so difficult to even know what that means given that language purity is not at all protected or preserved. I mean, when I speak Sesotho or isiZulu it's often tainted by mordenised & popularised dialects. Reading in that specific language is a great way to go back to "the source" & quench that real thirst with beautiful language structure and idioms.
You know that feeling when you get to the last page of a book & you're both happy and sad? Happy because you enjoyed the read so much and sad because you're going to miss the charecters? This is how I judge a good book. A good writer takes you on a journey. You get to know the characters intimately (what keeps them up at night, their fears, their dreams, their flaws). The more you engage with the material, the more the veil between reality & fiction is slowly torn as you learn to love some charecters & hate others. When I think about some of my favourite books, the thread that links each one is not the writer's excellent skill of creating complex & intriguing charecters, it's not how contrasting ideas or concepts were beautifully juxtaposed, it's also not the expressive & sharp choice of words or the fact that the climax was perfectly timed .....for me, it's about how the book makes me feel. The more conversational the style, the better. This makes sense because we're wired to receive, remember & relay stories which are meaningful to us. These stories stick if they are simple, unexpected & emotional. They stick if their beat echoes the beating of our hearts. They stick if they can make us feel....and if they can make us feel, they can change us.