Friday, November 28, 2008

Delmar Lemming’s Recommended Books: Harraga

Last year I heard Canary-based author Antonio Lozano talk about his 2001 novel Harraga. As I had read the book twice, it was great to learn Antonio’s insights..
Novel writing is a hobby for Antonio who teaches French teacher at a high school around the corner from his home in Agüimes on the south road just beyond our international airport. In the late 1990s, after years of ruminating, he wrote his first work Harraga which was followed by four other novels. All have garnered national prizes and international recognition.
Harraga is the story of a young Moroccan man, Jalid, who abandons his job waiting tables at the Café de París in his hometown of Tangiers. He gets caught up in drug running across the Straits of Gilbraltar to Spain and other illegal activities. His nadir comes when he begins trafficking people in precarious rafts. The story is mostly told by Jalid from prison where he is being tortured and eventually driven crazy and killed, though his death is termed suicide by the corrupt police. It is a miserable study of the underbelly of a very seedy culture, but the characters are portrayed with kindness.
Antonio grew up in Tangiers and his widowed father still lives there. So the book is brimming with precise detail and insights that only a local resident could know. The reader learns a lot about Islamic culture as seen through the quite strict Moroccan society.
Although Harraga deals with the social aspects of Morocco and is charged with political overtones about Magrebi and African development more generally. In this sense, it reflects the concerns of Antonio, who with his wife Clari, is quite politically active here on the island. But Harraga is much more than a social treatise. Its plot development and character analysis both enthralled me. As Antonio Lozano has been so successful in his subsequent writing, I was taken by the great affection he feels for his first book. The nicest part of the evening for me was when Antonio read a chapter aloud as I recorded him on a digital recorder which I always carry around.
Antonio enjoys a privileged lifestyle in that his wife Clari and his best friend next door and his best friend’s wife all read his work and provide useful criticism. Best of all, they take an active interest in his writing and make a fuss over their “neighborhood author” which must make writing even more appealing. To be surrounded by readers who want to read your stuff must be heaven. In fact, he dedicates his recent novel Donde Mueren los Ríos (Where the Rivers Die) to Clari. It was nice to see literature carried on amid such warmth and affection.
If you manage to find Harraga in a local bookshop, buy it. I recommend it, particularly if you are interested in the topic of human migration in our area. I should warn you, this is a difficult book to find but most local libraries have copies.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mari Carmen's Hommage to her Grandfather, Don Fermín

My granddad’s name was Fermín, he was born on the 26th November, 1901. He lived his first years in Las Lagunetas, but at the age of 9 he had to emigrate to Cuba with his father, looking for a job to bring some money to their home. There he worked cutting sugar cane enduring very harsh conditions. He also had the opportunity of getting to know a different culture and developing his two great passions: horses and Cuban music.
He came back home when he was 19 years old and enlisted in the army. During this period he met the love of his life, Carmen. They were wed two years later, so at 21 he was already a married man, and soon the children arrived in his life. He was the loving father of nine offspring. At that time he was working in a massive farm house as a butler. He was employed there for more than thirty years. He lived in that house and there he brought up all his children.
Little by little he saved enough money to buy his own farm house nearby, in La Calzada. So when he was sixty he still had to work hard to carry out this new project and he did it quite well. He was an endearing man, but also serious and respectable. It was common to see him singing or whistling while working. He lived and worked there until he died on the first of January, 1999. A special date for a special man. (MARY CARMEN NA-1)

David Shea's Band Mixti Fori Video Clip

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leanor's Essay about Michael Jackson

Essay about my childhood hero, Michael Jackson:

When I was ten years old, I loved Michael Jackson and his wonderful, pop music and dancing.
I discovered him with his second album “Thriller”, and my favourite songs were Thriller, Billie Jean and Bad. His clothes were very unique. His jackets, shiny shoes and white gloves fascinated me. Twenty three years ago I liked to dance, and Michael Jackson was the best dancer, in my opinion. I wanted to sing and dance like Michael Jackson and I dreamt about meeting him, the king of pop. (Leonor)

Vicente's Essay about Angela, Our English Classmate for a Day

Here is Vicente's essay about our English friend, Angela.
I hope you enjoy reading it!

Angela has been our foreign classmate for a day.
I first met her when she arrived at the Official School of Languages with Pilar, one of our classmates in the 5th course of English, in the cold evening of 9 January.
Physically, Angela is a long-legged well built woman, of average height and a little thin. She is in her middle twenties and has a fine boned face and a straight nose. Her straight long hair is dark brown and she often brushes it back. Her almond-shaped brown eyes show her humour and friendliness. She prefers wearing casual, modern clothes.
Angela is a very sociable woman. She loves going to parties and dancing and last year, she had the opportunity to study in Las Palmas University for one academic year. She is studying Theatre and Spanish in Canterbury University. She is from the port city of Portsmouth in the south of the United Kingdom. She has been working in a pub to pay for her university studies.
Her hobbies include reading and sports, but she has no time to practise. She hopes to take up tennis and swimming soon.
During the last year she has had the opportunity to live with Canary people. She loves the Canary people’s behaviour. She thinks that it is completely different to English people. In her opinion Spanish people are more “open hearted” than English people and they say something in all sincerity.
All in all, Angela was the perfect foreign classmate.
Vicente Simón – 5º Inglés
12th January 2008 – EOI Sta. Brigida