I am currently reading S.A Chakraborty’s The City of Brass — of which I am so excited for — because it has all the ingredients I loved in a novel (djinns! Middle Eastern folklore! Female protagonist! Cairo! Politics!) It tells the story of Nahri, an orphan and a con, who never knew her origins and family, who lived during the 18th-century Egypt and found herself accidentally summoning a djinn and being transported to an ancient city filled with mythical beings after an exorcism gone wrong. I am only 20% in so far and it is still too early to tell, but I am enjoying it so far. It was described to have the elements of Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni, and G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen, both of which I LOVED, so I couldn’t wait to delve into it every night before bed (where I often do my reading). But also after a conversation with a friend the other day about the book, I realised as someone who was so used to reading historical fiction most of the time, I needed to reframe the way I read fantasy because I was fixated on some historical inaccuracies and political correctness. I am that bad! But also I have been thinking, the fact that I was able to read voraciously — a practise that had never changed ever since pre-corona anyway — but being unable to enjoy the book and where I pivot to nitpicking, is this because of academia or the quarantine brain or a combination of both? Either way, I need to figure out how to read more appreciatively.
This isn’t something new, but I have been having trouble to write these past few days. If you do hang out here long enough, you might have noticed I haven’t written here just as frequent as I did last year. The initial practice of writing 300 words a day that I started last year somehow started to dwindle in 2020, and it was funny because in 2019 I was writing my thesis almost every day and then I turned to write in this blog almost every day before bed. But now, meh. It felt like all the vocabulary I picked on the previous years doing PhD somehow fell apart this year, locked away in isolation along with the rest of the (most of) the world, hibernating in hopes to emerge to articulate the state of my mind better, but they turned to mush whenever I tried to materialise them onto paper. I hope this attempt is one of the kinds of brave wild failure Padgett Powell talked about.
To conclude, I still could not stop thinking about this question and answer in this excellent interview with Jia Tolentino — you should read it, it’s full with amazing gems with how we could reframe quarantine and hope — that read:
INTERVIEW: What’s one skill we should all learn while in quarantine?
TOLENTINO: How to make someone feel loved from a distance.
Reading in my tabs:
- This minister risked her job to come out to her congregation as trans, and her sermon made me wept.
- Immunity to Covid-19 could disappear in months. Yikes. Also, if the coronavirus is really airborne, we might be fighting it the wrong way.
- I’ve protested for racial justice. Do I have to post on social media?
- Twitter has gone wild when we discovered that everything could be cakes.
- “I will not die an unlived life, I will not live in fear, of falling or catching fire…”