Illness and Literature

Today would be a first official non-work day, given I technically went in on Friday (for all of half an hour) and yesterday was Memorial Day. Kim is at work and I’m trying to choose one of the many tasks to do. And can you believe that – after spending four and a half months working with almost 190 high school students – I start feeling unwell at home with one spouse and three animals? Yesterday I was pretty convinced it was allergies, today I’m not so sure. Either way I’m less than efficient right now.

I went for a jog with Cindy – that’s what you do when you’re feeling ill, right? – and now I’m holed up at home looking for something to pass the time. I recently started Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa, which has been interesting so far. But also, I’m going to immerse myself back in literature instead of just academic writing. Enter the Internet.

The 2011 shortlist for The Caine Prize for African Writing was just announced, and there are five pieces of literature that are in the running; each is available in pdf form on the website above, and I’ll be reading them. I know absolutely nothing about African literature, and I’m not much of a literary critic in any country or continent, really. Last week, Aaron Bady said he would be blogging each piece and asked others to join him, and I felt more than inclined to involve myself. Needless to say, he’s much more well-versed in African literature (since that is what he studied for his PhD) than I am, so my blogging will be much more amateur. If you’ve got the itch, feel free to join us and a a handful of other bloggers who will be writing about the Caine shortlisters, and feel free to read both my and Aaron’s accounts as we press forwards.

We’ll both be reading one piece a week since the prize is announced in five weeks. In the meantime I am either going to continue with Moyo’s book or pick up Elizabeth Griwold’s The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, which I picked up a few months ago when she came to speak at the CSRC. But, as I continue the job search and the redecorating project, I’ll need more things to read. So, question for the reader: what should be on my summer reading list?

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2 thoughts on “Illness and Literature

  1. This is an awesome idea! If I get time, I’ll definitely read and write about some of these!

    As for other reading, have you heard of @1book140 on twitter? It’s a twitter based book discussion on a new book each month hosted by The Atlantic. I participated in the trial run last summer and it was pretty neat — looks like it’s actually gaining steam this summer and will continue each month!

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