#AtoZChallenge 2019 #Audiobooks ‘I’ is for Laila Ibrahim ‘Paper Wife’ @Audible #HistoricalFiction #Migration

I’m thrilled to continue my AtoZ Blogging challenge with Laila Ibrahim, author ‘Paper Wife’, a historical novel set in Southern China and California in the 1920s.

Laila Ibrahim spent much of her career as a preschool teacher, school director, and as a religious educator. That work, coupled with her education in developmental psychology and attachment theory, provided ample fodder for the stories in her novels.

Laila Ibrahim

I started reading this novel quite by chance. It was recently offered as a daily deal on Audible, I read the blurb, listened to an extract and decided to buy it, at once. I’m glad I did because reading The Paper Wife is an unforgettable experience of walking in a young, penniless young migrant girl’s shoes, as she travels across the world to another civilisation, with a new family, leaving her past behind.

The Paper Wife is an emotional story about immigration, arranged marriages, intercultural differences, the subjection and exploitation of women and children, motherhood, marriage, strife and ultimately the power of faith and goodness.

Mei Ling lives in Southern China in the 1920s. Her parents decide the best way to improve her prospects is to sell her in an arranged a marriage to a first generation Chinese-American widower who lives in California with his two-year-old son. But to enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

The perilous voyage is described, her incipient relationship with her new husband and son and how she befriends, Siew, a young orphan girl, her detainment on Angel Island and her arrival at San Francisco, where she’ll discover that her husband and her new life are not what she expected.

In spite of the harsh topics discussed, such as slavery, child labour, forced prostitution, corruption and other criminal activities, it was not depressing or sad, because the story is told with great empathy and understanding for Chinese culture. Mei Ling is a strong woman with a purpose in life, to do good and be happy. I loved her strength, optimism and kindness.

I enjoyed listening to the story, told in the realistic and detailed manner of traditional historical novels, immersing the reader in another time and place.

It’s told in the third person entirely from eighteen year-old Mei’s point of view.

The Paper Wife was brilliantly read by Nancy Wu, who is talented enough to read all the voices, men, women, children, American and Chinese in such a way as to bring the story to life.

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The Paper Wife, is especially for readers who enjoy realistic and detailed, historical novels, which bring the past to life by means of traditional and emotional storytelling!

Laila Ibrahim’s Audible Author Page 

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks! 

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!

 

#NaPoWriMo Day 9 ‘Fire and Ice’ #poetrymonth #April #99Words #Poems Carrot Ranch

NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem a day, which takes place every year in April. Follow the link to find out more, be inspired, get daily prompts and meet other poets!

For Day 9, I’m joining in with Charli Mills weekly Fash Fiction challenge to write 99 words exactly based on her prompt. On this occassion, the topic is ‘Fire’ and I’ve written a 99-word poem.

Click on the banner for more information about this weekly writing prompt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire and Ice

The flame flickers in her eyes,
As the fire scorches her tiny fingers.
A burning hearth appears
Before her stunned sight.
She enters a cosy drawing room
With tinseled Christmas tree
And presents wrapped in bow-tied boxes.
She smells the turkey cooking
Downstairs in the wood-fired oven.
She hears her grandmother calling,
Reminding her to lay the table
With porcelain plates and silver forks,
But the match burns her trembling hands,
Falling on the snow-covered pavement.
Darkness surrounds the little match girl,
As day breaks over the icy city.
‘Come child,’ says her grandmother,
‘There are no matches left.’

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This poem was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s poem, The Little Match Girl, first published in 1845, in Denmark.

Fortunately, there aren’t many children dying of cold and hunger in Denmark, or indeed Europe, today, but according to a 2018 UNICEF report, 3.1 million children under the age of 5 are dying every year as a result of malnutrition, so the struggle to erradicate child hunger and malnutrition in the world is far from over.

Ironically, whiche almost 2 billion people are overweight due to malnutrition, 2 billion are underweight due to lack of sufficient food.

Foto by Pixabay

Are there any match girls in you part of the world?

#NaPoWriMo Day 8 ‘Unpromised Land’ #poetrymonth #April #Writephoto #Tanka #MondayBlogs #Migration

NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem a day, which takes place every year in April. Follow the link to find out more, be inspired, get daily prompts and meet other poets!

For Day 7, I’m joining in with Sue Vincent’s weekly #Writephoto prompt. Writers and bloggers are invited to use the image as inspiration to create a post on their own blogs, poetry, prose, humour… light or dark, or whatever you choose.

Click on the banner for more information about this fun weekly writing prompt!

#writephoto

 

 

 

 

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For visually challenged writers, the image shows the view from within a cave on the sea shore, looking out onto a beach. There are the shadowy entrances of other caves across the bay and a waterfall tumbles down from the rocky cliffs.

Unpromised Land

Undocumented.
She swims to shore, hides in cave,
Waiting for nightfall.
Ringleader promised new life
In free country, but he lied.

*

Another prison
Awaits gullible migrant.
New shackles bind her
To heartless, greedy owners.
Still a slave in a new land.

*

Hopes and dreams will fade
Into an endless dark night,
The Unpromised land
will swallow her youth and strength,
Bursting starry-eyed visions.
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Many undocumented migrants try to enter richer countries illegally, with the help of globally organised traffickers who promise them a new and better life, but sadly, it’s often just a ploy. Many end up being exploited or even worse used as slave labour, unable to break free from their captors.

Small, unpopulated, seaside locations are often used to smuggle these vulnerable people into another country.

According to a recent article in Business Line, women are especially at risk, due to the demand for prostitution. Almost three-quarters of women and girls who are trafficked are sexually exploited, and 35 per cent are trafficked for forced labour.

There is plenty of news coverage about this issue. A very recent article in the Guardian called One in 200 people is a slave. Why? Gives us some shocking facts about modern-day slavery.

An article in Time magazine on March 14th 2019 called ‘It Was As if We Weren’t Human.’ Inside the Modern Slave Trade Trapping African Migrants includes more information on the topic.

It’s not an issue a single person, or group of people can solve, because it’s a complex, global concern, which needs to be addressed at an international, political level, but building awareness of this shameful practice is the first step towards helping those who are victims of modern-day slave trade.

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Langston Hughes 1936.jpg

Langston Hughes in 1936 by Carl Van Vechten, Wikipedia

There’s a long history of the poetry of resistance, in which poets have spoken out about all kinds of social injustice. There’s more information on the Poetry Foundation in an article on Poems of Protest, Resistance, and Empowerment

Here’s one of my favourite, by Langston Hughes at the Poetry Foundation

I look at the world

I look at the world
From awakening eyes in a black face—
And this is what I see:
This fenced-off narrow space   
Assigned to me.
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I look then at the silly walls
Through dark eyes in a dark face—
And this is what I know:
That all these walls oppression builds
Will have to go!
*
I look at my own body   
With eyes no longer blind—
And I see that my own hands can make
The world that’s in my mind.
Then let us hurry, comrades,
The road to find.
*
Langston Hughes, “I look at the world” from (New Haven: Beinecke Library, Yale University, ) Source: Poetry (January 2009)
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Do you have a favourite social protest poem, or poem about human migration?

#NaPoWriMo Day 2 ‘Sparrow’ #poetrymonth #April #Poems #Haiku

NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem a day, which takes place every year in April. Follow the link to find out more, be inspired, get daily prompts and meet other poets!

Day 2 poem, Sparrow, was inspired by a photograph of a sparrow on fellow blogger Paul Militaru’s Blog, where he posts his photography portfolio, which brightens my day with his beautiful pictures.

sparrow in waiting for better days

Sparrow sits on branch
Proud like a King on his throne
He fears no eagle

#NaPoWriMo Day 1 ‘Just Me’ #poetrymonth #April #Poems

NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem a day, which takes place every year in April. Follow the link to find out more, be inspired, get daily prompts and meet other poets!

Today, Day 1, I’d like to introduce myself. Me is a poem I wrote a few years ago, while I was lecturing on Postcolonial Literature to Undergraduate students of English. We all wrote poems introducing ourselves from a migrant’s perspective, this was mine.

ME

Fifty years ago on Seven Sisters road,

On an island miles and years away

From their wrecked and hungry homes,

In a spotless sullen ward,

Within the ancient Roman city of London, 

A confused Spanish migrant,

Gave birth to the sole survivor of three.

Who decided the chosen one would be

me?

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She gave me a name, her name, a Roman name.

He gave me a surname, his surname, a Spanish surname.

Now I’m richer, I have two names and two surnames

As well as passwords and user names, and logins,

And ID cards with photos, and credit cards with microchips.  

I’m the fusion of both of them, of all of them.

Their old country and our new world.

Two minds, two tongues, two hearts, but

One person.

Just me.

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I was baptized and civilized in churches and schools,

By Roman Catholic priests and nuns.

They taught me what to learn, and I did,

They taught me what to believe, and I did that too.

God blessed me with three brains;

One is clever and has a PhD,

Another is hard-working: teaching, cleaning and cooking,

But the best is loving and giving her love

To her three children, four grandchildren,

And their other unborn children.

That’s me.

And who are you?

 

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Cellar’ by Minette Walters #BookReviews #AmReading #Audible

I became a fan of Minette Walters in the nineties, after reading her first novel, The Ice House (1992), I also r

ead The Sculptress, The Scold’s Bridal and many more.

I didn’t write reviews at that time, but I loved her carefully crafted crime thrillers, the way the characters came to life, the unexpected twists, and how there was also a hint of romance. If you haven’t read them yet, and enjoy detective fiction, check them out.

I hadn’t read any of her novels in over a decade, and when I came across The Cellar, published in 2015, I decided to read what she was writing almost 23 years after her first novel.

Blurb

The terrifying Hammer novella by Minette Walters, bestselling author of The Sculptress and The Scold’s Bridle

Muna’s bedroom is a dark windowless cellar and her activities are confined to cooking and cleaning. She’s grown used to being maltreated by the Songoli family; to being a slave.

She’s never been outside, doesn’t know how to read or write, and cannot speak English.

At least that’s what the Songolis believe.

But Muna is far cleverer – and her plans more terrifying – than the Songolis, or anyone else, can ever imagine …     

My review

The Cellar is not a long novel, at about 250 pages, but I wouldn’t call it a novella. I didn’t feel I was reading a short story or brief account. It’s a fully fleshed novel from start to finish.

Although crimes are committed in this novel, and the perpetrator is unknown until the final part, I did find it very different to her original crime novels, whose main interest was solving a crime. The Cellar is not concerned with how the detectives discover the culprit or how this person is brought to justice and equilibrium is restored. The Cellar points a finger at all of us, because it is concerned with why and how events occurred and no one even cares enough to take notice.

The Cellar is an extremely dark, psychological thriller, bordering on horror. At the same time, it’s a  contemporary account of cultural misunderstandings and the challenges of immigration on both immigrants and the receiving country. It also deals with sensitive topics such as sexual and emotional abuse, domestic abuse, parenting, corruption in our legal system and psychological illness.

Ultimately, it raises more questions than it answers, about our welfare state, our consciences, and how we protect the children living in our modern western countries, independently of their country of origin.

It’s not an easy read due to the subject matter and because there’s no one to root for in the long-term; main and secondary characters were all unlikable, uncaring, inefficient, unstable or downright evil.

And yet, it’s a terrific novel. I was totally immersed in Muna’s dreadful world. I’m glad Minette Walters disturbed me enough to make me think and rethink about the complex and controversial issues the novel brings up.

I listened to the audio version, which was brilliantly read, right to the chilling ending.

Buy Links Minette Walters novels US

Buy Links Minette Walters novels UK

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Minette Walters has recently published a historical novel set in the 14th century, The Last Hours, which I’ve just Downloaded onto my kindle, and is currently bestseller on Amazon UK.

Buy link The Dark Hours 

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Have you read any of Minette Walters’ novels?