Seven Fallen Feathers

You see, the giant Nanabijjou made a deal.

Seven Fallen Feathers; Racism, death and hard truths in a Northern city, Tanya Talaga, Anansi Press 2017

I honestly don’t understand why there isn’t a massive uprising worldwide because of all of the abuse indigenous people have been put through. Well, I do understand, but I don’t. No, this isn’t a light, happy read.

Seven Fallen Feathers are seven indigenous teenagers that are mauled, killed and spit out by a society that doesn’t have any room for them and doesn’t care about it either. This is Canada, but I’m sure it can be applied worldwide. Tanya Talaga gathers information about cases in the past decade that have been – one after another – just written off as accidents while plenty of signs point to the opposite. While doing that, she also shows life for indigenous people in Canada, their history and contemporary reality of endless racism and abuse and the government that is supposed to care be absolutely uncaring.

It’s an endless train wreck; after a while you just know not to expect better from police, society and government. The hand dealt is five fingers short and rotten thoroughly, but only excuses follow.

For someone who fell in love with the country, it’s an ugly eye-opener. But looking away leads to ignorance, and that’s never a good thing. Through all this, Talaga manages to show the beautiful sides, the strange and wonderful sides of the indigenous people. If only more would see.

Undermajordomo Minor

Lucien Minor’s mother had not wept, had not come close to weeping at their parting.

Uh, well, erm, what kind of book was this? Pretty early into it I already tweeted “This book is going to be awesome-weird or how-what-why-frustration-fueled-weird” and it landed largely on the side of the last option.

The blurbs call it darkly comedic, a fairy tale, a commentary. I only recognised the fairy tale part. There’s an unlikely hero (soft on the hero part), a strange village with a stranger castle with even stranger people inhabiting it. Mysteries happen as well, but somehow, along the way, the author seemingly decided to start unveiling them.

This turns things from a-bit-out-there to too neatly wrapped up, and with an unsatisfying end to boot. I don’t know why it was on my To Read list, but I’m not going to pass it on.

Undermajordomo Minor, Patrick DeWitt, Anansi 2015

Mr Selden’s Map of China

In the summer of 1976 I left China through Friendship pass.

Meer non-fictie, en ik had het amper door!

Als geografie- en atlasliefhebber was ik al enthousiast over dit boek, maar Timothy Brook haalt ook de VOC en EIC er bij op een manier die niet in nationale schoolboeken te vinden is. Vuiger, eerlijker.

Het is niet alsof Brook agressief oordeelt, hij is gewoon stukken nuchterder (tot aan de epiloog toe, maar zijn lofzang daar is voor de kaartenmaker, niet de kolonisten)  dan verhalen over de VOC vaak zijn.

Gaat dit boek dan echt alleen over één kaart en de periode van zijn creatie? Neen, het is de wereld waar in het geschapen is en de manieren en beweegredenen van de makers. Het is een academische, geschiedkundige reis met liefde voor de topografie. En die liefde en Brook’s enthousiasme zijn aanstekelijk genoeg om door instructies over (Aziatisch) kompas lezen te worstelen.

Mr Selden’s Map of China: Decoding the secrets of a vanished cartographer, Timothy Brook, Anansi 2013