African Titanics by Abu Bakr Khaal

African Titanics by Abu Bakr Khaal

Eritrean fiction

Original title –  تيتانيكات أفريقية

Translator – Charis Bredin

Source – personnel copy

I have reviewed a few books from the small publisher Darf over the last few years. I picked up this recently as it was a book from a country I haven’t read from, but also a story that appeals as it is  the tale of many people trying to seek a new life in Europe. Abu Bakr Khaal followed the route described in the book and himself spent many years in Libya and the in a refugee camp in Tunisia.Before living in Denmark.

I do wonder how many nicknames. I’ll bear throughout my life. In Khartoum I was known as Awacs(The Airbourne warning and Control System) because I’d refuse to go to bed at night til I’d garnered evryy last useful scrap of information from the world of immigrant smuggling, by land, sea and air. From mt lodgings in Khartoum I kept track of the number of Titanics that left North Africa’s shores bound for Europe evry Summer.I was always informed of the most recent departures and whether or not the boats had reached dry land.

The Gamble they all take using these make shift crafts to reach their dreams in Africa.

This book mix the present with the past as we follow one young man’s journey from his home in Eritretooo Libyia and then Europe. Abdrar has been hearing tales of life in Europe and we get to follow his journey from his home first to Sudan Khartoum after he is arrested at home .In Khartoum, there are many smugglers there to  take people on  their journey north through the mainland of Africa.  We see how they charge people different amounts for here they come from. All the time there is a thread of folk tales and previous migrants stories underlying the tale. Till they arrive in Libya and take what they call those African Titanics, those makeshift and often overcrowd former fishing boats and other put together ships that the refugees sail on. The latter part of the book is like a collective tale of these people a fellow traveller Malouk who you may sense might even be a ghost tells tales and then is lost at sea, but then is seen again in the Med by other people on one of the African Titanics!

To all the pounding hearts

In feverish boats

I will cut

Through these paths

with my own liberated heart

And tell my soul

To shout of your silenced deaths

And fill

Palms of dust with morning dew

And song

I Choose the end lines as they are so powerful a song sung by the ghost Malouk on the Med.

This is a short but hard-hitting Novella that is the voice of many those lost and the trail to Europe that Abdar and many others through the years have followed to Libya to Tunisia and then frequently to drown in the Med. The style of this story reminded me of the early books by Ben Okri that mix so well African folktales, Magic realism and realism into a story that like the smoke of the refugee’s fires at night drifts in the air and becomes a collective voice for the many. It also highlights the horrors faced and the Exploitation of those seeking a new and better life away from their horrors of their homelands. May I also point out that Darf is running a fundraiser for the second part of The Confines of \shadow by Alessandro Spina I reviewed the first part a couple of years ago.

This is a review of a fiction novel and no person in the text is based on a real character or organisation.

 

 

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Bohumil Harbal Too loud a solitude – Kick starter

 

I got an email from the makers of this project a film of the book Too Loud a solitude by the Czech writer Bohumil Harbal .link to the kickstarter page 

EW YORK, NY (October 11, 2016) – Award winning artist and short film director Genevieve Anderson (“Boxed”, “Sunlight”, “ola’s box of clovers”) will bring to life Czech author Bohumil Hrabal’s beloved novella Too Loud A Solitude (Příliš hlučná samota ,1976), marking her feature film debut and the first of Hrabal’s works to be adapted by an American director.  Hrabal fans worldwide are invited to support the project via the film’s Kickstarter campaign, which launched under the Sundance Institute’s curated page on September 27, 2016 and will run through November 1.

With a script by Alex MacInnis (This American Life, “Down to the Bone”), and visual effects supervised by Evan Jacobs (“Captain America”, “Ant Man”, “Avengers”, “Alice in Wonderland”). “Too Loud a Solitude” will utilize live action puppets, animation, stock photographs and footage to tell the story of a waste paper compactor within a police state who has acquired an education so unwitting he often can’t tell which are his thoughts and which come from his books.

Golden Globe and Emmy winner and Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti is attached to lend his voice talent to the main character of Hanta. Producers Steve Gaub (“Beauty and the Beast”, “Unbroken”, “Oblivion”), Kelly Miller (“Forgiven”, “Y Tu Mama Tambien”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”), and Frank Rehak (Fulbright Fellow, Academy of Film & Photography – FAMU – Prague; Johns Hopkins University) are poised to begin pre-production in Spring 2017.

“The outpouring of support for this project has been amazing over the years,” said Anderson. “We have been working on this project in one form or another since 2004.” In fact, the crew was able to shoot a 17-minute excerpted version of the feature script in 2007, funded by the Rockefeller Media Artist Foundation, Heather Henson, and the Jane Henson Foundation.

Hrabal is widely considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and has had two novels adapted to film by director Jirí Menzel, including the 1968 Oscar-winning Closely Watched Trains, and six other film adaptations [see here for the source: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2001/feb/23/classics.culture ]. Hrabal’s poignant visual writing style has had wide-ranging influence on writers, including Philip Roth and Louise Erdich [see here: http://www.themillions.com/2014/07/the-academy-of-rambling-on-on-bohumil-hrabals-fiction.html ], and artists such as the Australian singer/songwriter Nick Cave, among many others.

Renowned contemporary video artist and collaborator Bill Viola describes Anderson’s work as follows:

“Watching Genevieve’s films, and the worlds they evoke, give me the distinct impression that I am seeing right into someone’s private inner world, a place where the characters and situations were the direct embodiments of the feelings for the events and not simply their visual, dramatic representations. This indicates to me that her impressive technical skill is in service to something else.”

 

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