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Cruise Salon (Buddy reads) > Chaos of the Senses by A. Mosteghanemi- Algeria

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message 1: by Bernadette (last edited Feb 18, 2011 10:17PM) (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Because I couldn't find Memory in the Flesh, I read Chaos of the Senses, the second book in the trilogy. It took about 75 pages before the story really drew me in...and then the whole thing seemed eerily familiar, although I'm sure I've not read it before! Weird. The love-story thread of this book didn't do too much for me. It was the historical and cultural tidbits that fascinated me. And also made me realize how little background knowledge I had about Algeria going into this book. As a reading teacher, I should know better!! ;-) I'm thinking we need to add some nonfiction to our book shelf for this cruise.

So, here are some quotes/themes from the book that I felt were important. I'm curious if similar topics were explored in the first book, Memory in the Flesh? And if these themes appear often in this author's work?

FREEDOM
“This city might forgive you everything, anything except being different. Isn't freedom, in the end, the right to be different?”

“Freedom for her was simply the freedom to dream.”

“Freedom is waiting for nothing.”

**If this were a classroom, I'd have us each write one sentence defining our ideas of freedom and then put them together into a list poem! While I quite like her first definition of freedom here - the right to be different - I'm not sure that's how I'd define freedom. One quote that did pop into my head was: "The less you have, the freer you are." (a quote I once taped to the back of a moving van!) This idea of freedom reminds me of the traditional Bedouin lifestyle and their ability to move whenever need or desire calls because they could take all their possessions with them. I'd like that freedom. And - choice - that's a big thing that I think is essential to my freedom.

LOVE
“I don't think anyone likes to hurt another, or kill for the pleasure of killing. But everyone has started to think that if he doesn't kill, he'll be killed. It's a matter of trust. We've lost faith in each other. We're being swept toward evil, and we must not get carried away into riding that senseless train. Life is beautiful, Nasser, believe me. If only we put some love into it.

**The emphasis on that last sentence is mine. For me, this was one of the more powerful messages in this book.

OTHER
“People? They usually ask only stupid questions, forcing you to reply with equally stupid answers. For instance, they ask you what you do, not what you would have liked to do. They ask you what you own, not what you've lost. They ask about the woman you married, not about the one you love. About your name, but not if it suits you. They ask your age, but not how well you've lived those years. They ask about the city you live in, not about the city that lives in us. And they ask if you pray, not if you fear God.”

**I just loved this character's attitude towards questions! Not long ago, I offended someone because I refused to answer their "Where are you from" question with an "appropriate" answer. I was just so fed up with that question and how little my answer would help anyone understand me. I enjoyed how in the story, the main character was always having to think and rephrase her questions so she could get the information she wanted - the true, important answers!


message 2: by Chrissie (last edited Feb 07, 2011 04:25AM) (new)

Chrissie Bernadette, I too have had trouble getting Memory of the Flesh! I have it on order, so eventually it will come, I hope.

I wanted to thank you for your message above. I rally appreciated the quotes. They make me even more eager to read a book by this author. The different themes covered were also interesting.

I would also like to ask you a question. I do not speak Arabic. I am having a very hard time getting the English titles of the books for this author and other Arabic authors. I am wondering how I can get the English titles? I can only find them if I search by the English title. If I look at the list of books by a given author they are all in Arabic. Unles I happen to know the English title, it is hopeless. GR obviously has both titles, since I find the book when I search by the English title. Do you understand my problem?

When I have the list of Arabic titles how I can I find which have been translated into English?

Sometimes the Google translation bar does appear, but usually it doesn't!


message 3: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Chrissie, do you mean when you search on GoodReads? anytime a book shows up in Arabic, you should click on the link that says "other editions" and it should link directly to the English-language (or French-language) edition...let me know if that's not what you mean.


message 4: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Marieke, yes. I mean on GR. I am going to go look for this link. Where is it placed on the book's page? I will go see if I can find it myself! Do all books have this "other editions" link. I also look at Polish and Czech and Russian books..... I have GR friends who read these languages! I am having trouble with all of them. Off to look.


message 5: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments The "other editions" shows up on the top right hand side of the page. Then if you hover over the cover images, you'll get more info on each edition and can click to choose the English one.


message 6: by Chrissie (last edited Feb 07, 2011 10:56PM) (new)

Chrissie Bernadette and Marieke,

Sorry for this off thread question!!!

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10...

OK, I will try it with the book which happens to be in Polish. I have the text on my screen very large so I have never seen this on the top right hand corner. ...

OK, I tested it - In the top right hand corner it says "none found". Is this where the "other editions" would be? I guess there is no translation . The whole thing is so strange b/c this particular book looks like it is translated INTO Polish, not from Polish, so there ought to be another edition. Am I being thick-headerd or something?

ETA: Well I did find "other editions" here on the following page:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63...

Still that Polish book seems weird!

Thanks for your help.


message 7: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
no problem, chrissie...you are friends with muphyn, right? she is an experienced "goodreads librarian" and she might be able to help you figure out the problem with that book. or help you post your question to the "goodreads librarian" group so that someone can fix it. it seems like it ought to link to other editions from what you're saying, but there is a glitch somewhere.


message 8: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments You are right - the Polish book does not have any other editions listed. That doesn't mean there is no translation though - just that it's not in the Goodreads database. If you have an ISBN of a translation, try searching by that. If nothing comes up, then it's not listed in Goodreads but you can add it (if you have Librarian status).


message 9: by DubaiReader (new)

DubaiReader | 30 comments Meanwhile this link might help -
http://arablit.wordpress.com/2010/04/...

The top 100 Arabic books with info on whether they are translated into English.
Sorry, no help with Polish literature though :)


message 10: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie DubaiReader, that is great too! I put it under my favorites!


message 11: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Chrissie wrote: "Bernadette, I too have had trouble getting Memory of the Flesh! I have it on order, so eventually it will come, I hope.

I wanted to thank you for your message above. I rally appreciated the quo..."


There were several other quotes that really struck a chord with me - but I didn't want to give it all away! ;-)

One of the more fascinating cultural bits was the main character's discussion of the public baths! I could never imagine myself at one and reading this female character's take on it all was interesting.


message 12: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Bernadette, can't you tell us a little bit more about the baths...... Why couldn't you imagine yourself there? What, are they dirty? And how does the other female character react. Just a little bit more please. And if it is a spoiler, mark it with spoiler and others can not read it! I am curious.


message 13: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Chrissie wrote: "Bernadette, can't you tell us a little bit more about the baths...... Why couldn't you imagine yourself there? What, are they dirty? And how does the other female character react. Just a little bit..."

Well, I think it mostly comes down to the fact that I don't deal well with steam and heat! Saunas and steam rooms have never appealed to me. And bathing, for me, is more of a private ritual; socializing and scrubbing just doesn't seem to go together. But that's just me! I don't even like to visit hair salons. ;-)

The character in the story does not like them either, but she goes to appease her mother (although she refuses to remove her towel).

One of her more surprising reflections:
"There one learned from others' looks how to renounce one's own body, suppress one's desires, and deny one's femininity. They taught girls that not only was sex something to be ashamed of, but femininity as well and everything that revealed it, even in silence."

She goes on to say:
"In a city where there was no private or intimate space, the baths violated the sanctity and propriety of the body." Baths are places of "feminine hypocrisy".

I really wasn't expecting that. I would have imagined more openness, more acceptance among the women. I expected, at least in these baths, a stronger sense of cooperation and solidarity rather than competition and scrutiny.


message 14: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Bernadette, well having spent much of my life in Sweden where sauana's are "what you do", and personally something I do NOT do b/c I hate the heat and suffocating warmth, I understand. Quite a surprise and in fact amusing that the character sees them as a place of feminine hypocrisy..... Thank you for sharing.


message 15: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
i don't have this book but i want to just chime in and say i don't know if i'm surprised. maybe this isn't an apt comparison, but i hated having to change my clothes for gym class as a teenager for the reason that...girls are mean. any cooperation or solidarity that existed, existed because of the overriding competition and scrutiny. :(


message 16: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Marieke, I understand your pov too! A group of women can be really bitchy to each othe!


message 17: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments You are right, Marieke - girls are mean. I guess I was just hoping that the baths wouldn't be like our gyms in school! I wonder if the character's aversion to the baths is a common feeling among women. And, if so, why do they continue to go?

Reminds me of song lyrics (Ani DiFranco):
"I had to leave the house of fashion,
Go forth naked from its doors
'Cuz women should be allies,
not competitors.
"


message 18: by Marieke, Former moderator (last edited Feb 11, 2011 02:32AM) (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Ani is right. man i haven't listened to her in forever!

i finished "Wolf Dreams" last night so i'm going to start "So Vast the Prison" soon and try to get my hands on this book. i'm really curious.


message 19: by Bernadette (last edited Feb 13, 2011 09:41PM) (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Marieke wrote: "Ani is right. man i haven't listened to her in forever!"

Oh, my day isn't complete unless I've listened to at least one song of Ani's! ;-)

Okay, so in my search for more info about Algeria, I came across these two articles discussing the historical relationship between Algeria and Egypt. Very interesting, especially in today's context and because in this book, Gamal Abd al-Nasser is referred to often as an inspiration to the Algerian people. I still need to read more, but these reads gave me a bit more info about Boudiaf, Ben Bella, Boumedien - and the connection between the two countries.

Algeria and Egypt: A tale of two histories

Algeria and Egypt: A tale of two peoples


message 20: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Do you remember the problems between algeria's and egypt's football teams? Yesterday a French-language paper, I think Algerian, published a political cartoon titled "Arab Dictator Cup." And the caption was "Egypt-1, Algeria-0." lol. Maybe they'll be tied soon...


message 21: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Thank you, Bernadette. I very much appreciated both articles.


message 22: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Marieke wrote: "Do you remember the problems between algeria's and egypt's football teams? Yesterday a French-language paper, I think Algerian, published a political cartoon titled "Arab Dictator Cup." And the cap..."

Yes, I think these articles were written and published after the soccer fiasco! The cartoons that are coming out of this revolution are too funny. :-)


message 23: by Niledaughter (last edited Mar 26, 2011 11:11PM) (new)

Niledaughter | 2750 comments Mod
Bernadette, I am glad you enjoyed Chaos of the Senses :) in other thread people were annoyed by the poetic language , even though it is not my favorite style , I think it was rich and beautiful .
BTW , I posted about public bathhouses in here:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...



oh , and Thanks for the articles :)

chrissie , (out of topic) we (Arab Liberians ) are trying to combine Arabic books with its translation but it is not always easy !


message 24: by Chrissie (last edited Feb 28, 2011 02:16AM) (new)

Chrissie Nile daughter, I have had lots of success looking at the righthand corner. So it is difficult to put the different editions together. I want to thank you for your efforts. It is a good way of introducing more people to Arabic literature. I have found the same thing with Polish literature, They aren't combined.


message 25: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Nile daughter wrote: "Bernadette, I am glad you enjoyed this one :) in other thread people were annoyed by the poetic language , even though it is not my favorite style , I think it was rich and beautiful .
BTW , I pos..."


Oh, to be able to read in Arabic! I'm sure her writing sounds much better in the original language.

Thanks for the reminder about your post about the baths.


message 26: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2750 comments Mod
Chrissie wrote: "Nile daughter, I have had lots of success looking at the righthand corner. So it is difficult to put the different editions together. I want to thank you for your efforts. It is a good way of intro..."

It is difficult because of the big amount , we do not have records of the translated books , also the book does not always has the same title after translating , also sometimes they combine more than one novel or a story in one book , you see ... several factors :(

Bernadette, you are welcome :)


message 27: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Nile Daughter, I have found that Google Search also has valuable information on translated editions. For this reason I have selected it as one of the stores where I might "buy books". Then I get it as a button under the book description.


message 28: by Niledaughter (last edited Mar 13, 2011 04:10AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 2750 comments Mod
Sorry I lost this message !
(out of topic) ... Can we buy books through Google ?


message 29: by Ingy (new)

Ingy (ngnoah) Hello guys..
Nice to see ppl here enjoying there reads..
I have to admit I never read this novel.. But it really caught my attention Bernadette and Chrissie's thought on traditional bathes and how the author (was it the author?) didn't like it and saw it as sign of feminine hypocrisy..

It's not uncommon in Arab culture that in a gathering of women, whether family or friends, women bring along with them their young daughters (age 20 and above), hoping that one of the other women there who has sons, or knows someone who has, might like a girl, and ask her hand for marriage for one of her boys..
See.. It's a very traditional marriage, ppl stopped going to these "feminine" gathering I suppose, now that the society is much more open, and women and girls have more freedom.. But few decades ago, that was literally the only way to get a "groom"!

I don't know the context of this "bath" thing in the novel, but this seems to be a possible explanation behind the fact that the author look at it as "femenin hypocrisy".. Everyone is going there not only to socialize, but to show one another "I am prettier than you".. with the "possibly-getting-a-groom-out-of-it"in the background of there minds, or even just by pure tradition! The left over of this rather old practice..
Thank God we don't do that anymore!


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