Thursday, February 8, 2024

Ode to Literary Conversations

In distant lands of prose and verse,
Where tales of history do disperse,
Books from Mexico, Netherlands, and Japan,
Bring rewrites of history, teen tales in their span.

A pleasure it is, no doubt, to see,
Books in translation, diverse and free,
Mexican writer Enrigue takes the lead,
His novel, You Dreamed of Empires, is indeed
A counterfactual tale of Cortés at Moctezuma's side,
Where mushrooms and peyote take them on a wild ride.

A drug-tinged odyssey through a political game,
Intrigue and power drive the characters, not fame,
With historical detail and hallucinatory dreams,
Enrigue's novel flows like a psychedelic stream.
A glimpse of Mexico's past, a reflection of today,
A portrait of jockeying men in a government's disarray.

But Enrigue offers no allegory with this tale,
Let meanings reveal themselves, he does impale,
Intricate characters, both slippery and profound,
Their empathy and hatred in a delicate balance are found.
A colossal achievement, this alternate 16th century,
The conquistadores making things up, their results extraordinary.

Onto the Dutch debut, Atangana Bekono's Confrontations,
A tale of Salomé, a teenager's revelations,
In a juvenile detention center she resides,
Her story, a reflection of power struggles that abide.
With a sparse setting and stick figure friends,
In Salomé's head, the narrative bends,
Between her father's advice of hard work and no moaning,
And her Aunt's reminders that power will leave her groaning.

A didactic approach leaves little room for surprise,
The message clear, but complexity it denies,
A missed opportunity, where exploration should thrive,
Confrontations fails to truly come alive.

Finally, we journey to Japan's shores,
Kiyoko Murata's novel, A Woman of Pleasure, soars,
In turn-of-the-century Kumamoto, a fancy brothel resides,
An intricate character study that powerfully presides.
Ichi, a girl sold to the brothel at fifteen,
With her journey, the novel takes its keen,
From dialect to education, her growth takes shape,
In the context of labor unrest, a collective consciousness awakes.

Murata's prose, brisk and lyrical, moves,
From haiku to broken journal entries, it behooves,
The lessons Ichi learns amidst her labor of tide,
Self-determination, physical and intellectual, as her guide.
A stirring ode to freedom, where women demand their rights,
A Woman of Pleasure shines with its empowering lights.

These books from worlds apart, in conversation they dwell,
Transcending borders, their stories do excel,
From Mexico to Netherlands to Japan's embrace,
They bring rewrites of history, teen tales with grace.
Literary journeys, diverse and profound,
Letting us explore different worlds, each resound.

Read the story