Wednesday, 31 December 2008


An irritating/ joyful surprise. Just before Christmas I purchased what I believed to be the final book in the Sword of Shadows-trilogy, A Sword from Red Ice. With only a 100 pages left I was starting to question whether or not this COULD be the final book. Too much was left to sort out. So I check the author, J. V. Jones' web page, and lo! and behold, another book is due at the end of 2009. I'm glad, because this means that I have another book to look forward to, but annoyed because I thought I would know the answers soon. Waiting another year (or more) will ruin the momentum, but so be it.

Whilst checking out her page, I also decided to see when the next novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire-series by George R R Martin is due. Turns out the plan is seven books in all, and I have read 3 of these. Lots of good reading to look forward to. BUT the big surprise here was, apparently HBO is planning to make a series out of the books! The idea is really really kewl, and I hope, if they do, that they make the effects sexy and believable. The series can only be as succesful visually as it is in book form, unless they make it REAL, LOTR-real...

So it seems there are a number of books to look forward to in the coming year. 2009 is very soon upon us, so happy new year to every fantasy-lover out there:D

Sunday, 14 December 2008

How literate are you?

According to the BBC most people (Brits in this case), have read only six out of the hundred books listed below. I stole this list from Ziarah's blog En Leseblogg, but the real source is BBC's Big Read (2003).

Feel tagged if you want:
1) Mark the books you have read with bold
2) Underline the books you want to read (since ctrl - u is not working in my blog for unknown reasons, I'm rather changing the colour of the books in question)
3) Put the books you love in italics

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - Have read part of his ouvre, including Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth og A Midsummer Night's Dream
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

21 out of 100 I can live with (at least I beat the "average" Brit, although Ziarah beats me by 7... Had the list consisted of a hundred Norwegian books, I can guarantee that I would have read tops 2 of them... One can of course question the election of what books to put on the list, because who decides which books one should read, or not?

Friday, 5 December 2008

My Work

As a scholar and literature fanatic with ambitions, I want to share what I am most proud of from my 5 years of literature studies. My first published article, originally a home exam in Johan Schimanski's fantasy and sci-fi course, was an utter pleasure to write and work with. The reward was getting it published in the "Arctic Discourses"-issue of Nordlit, summer of 2008. The title is "The Fantastic Identity: De/constructing the Feminine Hero in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass", and it can be accessed here.

The second one is more obvious, namely my MA thesis on J. M. Coetzee's novels In the Heart of the Country and Waiting for the Barbarians. Coetzee is an amazing writer, and his works have opened up so many doors for me -both on a personal level, as well as in terms of critical, historical and literary perspectives. Even though I do not love all of his fiction, I trust that he will continue to surprise and cut new paths in the years to come. My thesis can be accessed here.

Soon I will be shipping off my latest product, an article on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel Half of a Yellow Sun, to its (hopefully) future home. The aim of my article is to make people aware of the quality of her work, and to emphasize the healing powers of literature. The novel is extremely powerful and really draws the reader into the action.

the words are purposes
the words are maps

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Inspiring: ViErLike

It is always good to hear that we are doing something right. AND after merely replying to an email, we have ensured another contribution to Nkosi's Haven. I guess that is one of the advantages of being a small foundation, not having too much bureaucracy...

For inspiration's sake, I just had to post a link to Trine Lise's blog here:

Each One ~Reach one...

Monday, 24 November 2008

My new fave wine:)

Just had to post what will be this season's red wine for me... Last year it was Stormy Cape that kept me warm through the winter, but unfortunately they no longer have it in store (I can order it, but I prefer shopping wine on impulse).

So until now, I've been trying different red wines to find a new one to call "my own", and I have finally found it! Kumala Shiraz was tested out on Saturday, with great success. The taste has a little edge to it, which I find really refreshing. The label is nice and unique, and I love that it is purple!

To top it all, the price is just right, so I guess this is the bottle I'll be bringing home for Christmas.

Too bad I am going away in January, so that I can't enjoy it throughout winter. On the other hand, I'll be in SA then, and have ample opportunity to enjoy both that, and other bottles of wine.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

On My Way

At long long last the tickets have been booked. A Monday late in January, just before the sun shows its face again in Tromsø, I'll be on my way to South Africa. I've been checking prices regularly for the last few months, and NOW it's suddenly about 3000 Nok cheaper than last time I looked. I can't claim it was cunning speculation that made me wait so long to buy them, however. I simply haven't been able to afford them until now!

So the date has been set, and I'll be on my way unless something goes awry with the visa. Nkosi's Haven and 5 months of volunteering awaits. At least that's the plan for now. I can't wait to participate actively in the project my friends and I raised money for last Christmas. We encouraged friends and family to give a more meaningful gift, and our web page is still up and running. ViErLike earned 130.000 Nok last year. Hopefully we'll be able to raise some money this year too:)

Otherwise I am excited to see what will happen with NorthWest University, just outside Jo'Burg. I've wanted for a long time to study in SA, and this is a possibility. There are a few problems, however. One is financing. Norwegian PhD-students earn a decent salary for their work. The rest of the world are not necessarily as generous. At present, the financial aspect of the PhD is not resolved. I am meant to start repaying my student loan after Christmas, and I am also too much of a luxury animal to lead an ascetic life style. The other problem is timing. The academic year in SA runs from February to November. The initial plan is to be at Nkosi's Haven until late June. If these two problems of mine remain unsolved, then perhaps it simply wasn't meant to be. There are other Unis out there, AND other courses to take.

Right now I am just grateful for having the tickets ready. There's an article to finish, two translations to complete, books to place into shelves, some moving to be done, two years of life to be placed into boxes, suitcases to be packed, vaccinations to be had, Christmas gifts to get ready, mental preparations to be done, snow to clear, kisses to be shared, people to see, places to go, food to eat, wine bottles to be shared, things to be had... So much living, and all before I leave. And then... Who knows what awaits me?

Monday, 3 November 2008

The Book of Not by Tsitsi Dangarembga

I am currently pleasure reading the sequel to Nervous Conditions. Although not as accessible as the first book, I am starting to get into this later work, and curious to see if Dangarembga manages to eventually entice me as much as Nervous Conditions did.

Here's a little excerpt that really caught my fancy, and which puts many of my own opinions into words:
Stepping into the library was as exciting as stepping into a winnow basket, the first transport choice of local magical people, as others board a flying saucer or a magic carpet. Away, away you whisked in that place, into the pictures of other people's imaginations, the pages of other people's histories. And how warming it was to be not here but somewhere else, over there, between this and that, where you could become anything at all and where anything, including good things, could happen! [...] in hand, but not really there, somewhere else. It was a small ecstasy of being.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Sister Winter on her way

The first snow came yesterday, and with it came the realization of just how fast these last few months have passed by. In a month my financing runs out, and I need to have finished my article. Tick tack...

Despite being stressed about all the things I am doing and all the things I should be doing (working out, cleaning my room, packing my things, arranging my visa...), I feel quite happy, and all that is due to my wonderful friends and house mates. As long as I have plans during the weekends, it feels ok to sit at Uni 24/7 the rest of the week.

And today I even got good news. A response from an SA uni about my PhD dreams. There is hope. Time will tell what God decides for my future. But wow, the landscape sure is expanding. It is too much to think of, and I can hardly believe it. Just need to remind myself not to get ahead of myself here... Focus on the here and now. Finish the article at hand.

Autumn in Tromsø

Kitten, the boss of the household

Elin, and our dear friend Amarula on an average Friday afternoon. Mys!

Autumn (morning) sky over the Campus

Autumn (morning) sky over Tromsø

View from my house

Love the colour!!

The spirit of autumn

Sunday, 19 October 2008

The London I

Russell Square, the area in which I lived this time around. I love how London has all these parks in the middle of everything else.

Trees are awesome!

The bar in Russell Square. I want this fireplace for the library in my future home:)

Super stars of African literature. Nigerian author Chinua Achebe and critic Simon Gikandi. Major MAJOR rock stars of African literature indeed!! AND I shook Achebe's hand!!

The SOAS campus in London on a beautiful autumn day. I could live with having my lunch in surroundings like that...

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

All Work and No Play

After a weekend in London with perhaps more pleasure than business, I return home to the ever-increasing mountain of responsibility that is my life these days. The London trip was SUPPOSED to be a business trip, with a side dish of pleasure, but the call of that city always gets the better of me, and I let myself be tempted again and again. However, even if my few days of fun has set me back a little in terms of my other responsibilities, I do not regret it.

So. Today has been my first day of proper work since I got back. In addition to the article I am writing for the CPS, I have a few other things piling up (or perhaps it is the article that is in fact piling up..?).
  • I was offered a translation job from Norwegian to English, a curriculum for an MA program in child and adolescent mental health. However, I only have 30 days to finish it, and I find I am having a lot of trouble doing it, seeing as they use numerous terms which I am not familiar with... I am starting to wonder if I am biting off more than I can chew.
  • My former professor has asked me to do an introduction in one of his courses on one of the novels I wrote my MA thesis on. Naturally I want to do it, but it means a little extra work, and yet a distraction from my article.
  • My former professor FURTHER has hinted in no uncertain terms that it be a good idea if I also use the time I have for my article to write a PhD proposal... Only problem is, I do not know what I would have liked to do a PhD on... So that would have to be figured out BEFORE I could WRITE the actual thing, which means even more reading...
  • I have to apply for my SA visa. Which means having to call the embassy, and then organize numerous papers... *sigh*
  • I have my volunteer obligations, which I fear will be what will have to suffer now that I am engaged in so many other things.
  • I have my job in the Bookshop which I also have to go to at least once a week.
  • To top it all, I have to get a new phone and sim-card since I lost mine in London.
  • Oh, and of course the fact that I am blogging heavily, both here and at the myspace...
*continues to chew, with the help of a little wine*

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Love and Loss

Love and Loss are two of the most powerful themes in literature.

With Angelo Badalamenti's moving music as the soundtrack of my life these days, everything I read is coloured by his moods.

Half of a Yellow Sun, the amazing novel I am writing an article about at present, deals in depth with these themes. A quote that really got to me, that was agonizing to read, but at the same time immensely beautiful and poetic, was the following:

"Darkness descended on him, and when it lifted, he knew he would never see Kainene again and that his life would always be like a candlelit room; he would see things only in shadow, only in half glimpses".

This image really hits home with me.

We live as we dream -alone.

Sex and the City

Most mornings and evenings, over a cup of coffee or tea, my house mates and I talk about love, sex, life, etc. We do not always reach a conclusion to our debates, but sometimes merely posing the questions and discussing them, is answer enough.

On this specific morning, my house mate Elle and I were talking about boyfriends. And on the need girlfriends tend to have to change them, in minor or major ways. It has struck me that if we are talking about our brothers, or merely male friends, we are willing to accept them for who and what they are -however flawed. The moment we are interested in a guy, on the other hand, we instantly have this need to fix him, so to speak. And posing my question in a Carrie-esque way, I could not help but wonder if there is a way for girls to just accept their boyfriends like we do our brothers.
Elle pointed out that the moment that happened, it would mean that we had started feeling only brotherly love for our man. And I agree. The moment we give up trying to change them, is the moment we "give up" on them, and no longer care in the same way. Or am I forgetting something? So the distinction between our brothers/male friends and our boyfriends is clearly a border between different kinds of love.

The question I am left with, is this: is this what true love is? -This obsessive need to change our man?

And to make something clear: the goal is not necessarily to actually change him. Rather it is a project, an ongoing thing.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Just finished reading this amazing novel. Recommended! Here's an excerpt I found to be very striking:

"...It stung too saltily, too sharply and agonisingly the sensitive images that the women had of themselves, images that were really no more than reflections. But the women had been taught to recognize these reflections as self and it was frightening even now to even begin to think that, the very facts which set them apart as a group, as women, as a certain kind of person, were only myths; frightening to acknowledge that generations of threat and assault and neglect had battered these myths into the extreme, dividing the reality they faced, of the Maigurus or the Lucias. So instead of broadening from both positions, instead of an encompassing expansion and a growth, the fear made it necessary to tighten up. Each retreated more resolutely into their roles, pretending while they did that they were actually advancing, had in fact initiated an offence, when really, for each one of them, it was a last solitary, hopeless defence of the security of their illusions." (p. 138).

Fiction is truth.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Without You I'm Nothing

One of my BFF's are leaving:(

Two more days with you at calling and walking distance, and then we'll be divided with only the world between us.

I know it'll probably be good for the both of us. Manage on our own, spreading our wings, and not come crying to each other whenever something happens. But my oh my, I will miss it. Sure, we've had some rows, and sure, distance makes the heart grow fonder. But Australia is a long way away, especially when you are difficult to get a hold of even when you live only a 5 minute walk away. So please, babe, DO let us know you are alive;)

It's been a joke in the BFF group for a while that we need to be separated (as we know, jokes often tend to have a bit of seriousness in them). This probably because as enemies, we are a force of destruction that pulls everything and everyone around us into our black hole. As friends, however, I'd say we are equally deadly, perhaps even more so, and even in our darkest hour, anyone who DARES interfere will find him/herself anything but thanked for the effort.

I'll miss you so much. I'll miss the way you see through me SO easily. Without judging me. I'll miss the way you understand, the way we understand each other. I'll miss your sense of humour. But most of all, I'll miss bugging Shooga and Miss Chris Crocker by talking too loud at the movies. (Well, that and watching Twin with you...).

I wish you the best of experiences, and that you find what you are looking for. And when you are ready to come back, I'll be right here, ready with a bottle of red, Twin and guakkis. Loves ya baby!! *kiss kiss kiss*

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Reading, reading, reading

I love to read.

At most times, I am reading a lot of different things all at once. Right now I am reading peace and reconciliation theory at work. Actually rather interesting, but since the coffee has not quite kicked in yet, I am drooping (hence the blogging). With breakfast I try to read this book on the memory of the body, but it has been neglected lately (somehow I prefer talking to my house mates, lord knows why..!). Before bed I am reading Nervous Conditions, a wonderful novel that I am really enjoying. Unfortunately I am always beat when I finally pick it up, so I'll read a few pages and fall asleep. At the bookshop where I also work, I am reading Chicago which is also quite intriguing. I have an ever growing pile of books waiting for me to read them. Even if I live a 100 years, I doubt I will have time to read all I want.

Words are my life. I picture them really colouring my future. I fantasize about doing a PhD on African literature (yes, I know I am being very specific now). I want to write about female African contemporary writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. But I want to do some sort of border crossing, find writers from other African countries such as South Africa (which happens to be another field of interest).

Next week I'll be going to London for a conference on Nigerian legendary writer Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart. Present there will be a lot of African writers and researchers, including my new fave, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. How kewl it would be to say hi to her! And perhaps it will set the standard to where I go from here.

All I know about my future is that it will contain a lot of words. Time will reveal how this will come about. My options, as I see them, are these: either I add an MA in publishing to my MA in English literature, OR I do a PhD (preferably on African female border literature).

Oh. And my biggest (?) dream for the future is to have my very own library in my home. I'll sit there in my comfy chair in front of the fireplace, curled up under a blanket, a glass of red wine in one hand, a novel in the other, surrounded by all my beloved books...