Oh William, Elizabeth Strout Podcast, Sullivan E Period

“I would like to say a few things about my first husband, William.”

Protagonist and narrator Lucy Barton commencing her story with this casual claim about what’s to come sets the tone for a stream-of-consciousness type of intimate novel.

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Survival Guide for Glory

Luna Kwon and Logan Lee

              NoViolet Bulawayo sets Jidada, a reflection of Zimbabwe, as the setting of her story. In her narrative there is no space for human beings – there are only animals (mals and femals to be specific). This might remind you of Orwell’s Animal Farm, but stop that thought, because Bulawayo warns you from the start of her work of satire – “This is not an animal farm but Jidada with a -da and another -da! . . . And if you have any ears at all you’ll heed my advice because what you’re doing is swallowing all manner of big rocks, and very soon it shall be seen just how wide your asshole is when those very rocks will need to be shat!” Bulawayo, NoViolet. Glory (p. 33).

What We Enjoyed

  • The Repetition
  • “And the Father of the Nation, in his signature fashion, accordingly and incisively went on to denounce the West for neocolonialism, for capitalism, for racism, for economic sanctions, for ugly trade practices, for aid addiction, for the shutting down of factories and businesses in Jidada, for the absence of jobs, for the poor performance of farms, for the brain drain, for the homosexuals, for the power cuts and water cuts, for the miserable state of Jidada’s public schools and government hospitals and bridges and public toilets and public libraries, for the loose morals among the youth, for the potholes on the roads and the unpicked trash on the streets, for the black market, for the fluctuating crime rates, for the atrocious pass rate in national examinations, for the defeat of the Jidada national soccer team at the recent continental finals, for the drought, for the strange phenomenon of married men having second families on the side called small houses, for the rise in sorcery, for the dearth of production of exciting works by local poets and writers.”
    • Bulawayo, NoViolet. Glory (p. 18). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  • As you can see, it goes on and on. It may seem unnecessarily long  at first, but if you catch the rhythm of this never-ending list, you can actually realize that this simple mode of listing things – specifically the corruption of Jidada (even Zimbabwe) in this quote- is effective to mercilessly satirize the socioeconomic situation. This kind of listing appears frequently (very frequently), and the ridicule of these lists highlights what Bulawayo wants to say through her story. 
  • Symbolism of the Sun
  • Tholukuthi the sun twerked in the lewdest fashion and sent out such an epic blaze a few animals passed out at different points in the stadium while a hen, thoroughly overwhelmed by the heat, laid a fried egg.
  • Bulawayo, NoViolet. Glory (p. 13). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

  • The Opening scene of Glory is set during a speech given by Jidada’s dictator, the Old Horse, and the crowd in front of it. Bulawayo uses the Sun as a recurring literary device to remind the readers of the mockery of the Old Horse’s reign. He (alongside with Dr. Sweet Mother, the first femal) thinks that the Sun is something that they can manipulate – as well as the country of Jidada.
  • The Language
  • Tholukuthi 

Tholukuthi this word also makes a frequent appearance. Meaning indeed, you find that, only to discover, and really anything along those lines, this Ndebele word gives the book a whiff of the culture of the setting. 

There are also other words that introduce themselves during the story; here are some examples:

  • “kana, ngitsho,” “futhi”
  • Bulawayo, NoViolet. Glory (p. 20). 
  • “kukuru—”
    • Bulawayo, NoViolet. Glory (p. 21). 

Questions

  • Why Animals?
  • “By taking humans out of the equation, Bulawayo eliminates the hierarchies that their presence would impose.” (NY Times , 2022)
  • Bulawayo uses the connotation of certain species of animals to convey her ideas; for example she makes all the policemen dogs, because dogs are ferocious and strong. By drawing these kinds of lines in between species of animals, isn’t Bulawayo contradicting her purpose of utilizing animals to replace people? Or is it too far of a stretch to interpret the species of animals as the ethnicity or social status of people?
  • Also, if there are different species of animals ranging from horses to peacocks in Jidada, how does the reproduction work?

Overall Impression/Tips if you choose Glory as your next read

  • It may be difficult to understand from the perspective of a reader who is not aware of specific political backgrounds of Zimbabwe (However, this is also were Glory’s significance comes in- it sheds light to the current corruption and pain certain countries on the African continent is going through, which for some reason never makes the headline of papers).
  • We highly recommend doing a quick research on the political history of Zimbabwe, as Jidada and the Jidadan political scene are a strikingly direct reflection of it. 
  • Reading reviews of Glory may ironically be a more enjoyable experience compared to reading the book itself. The reviews fill you in with ‘inside jokes’ such as “General [Tuvy’s name] — a play on the Shona word for shit, duzvi,  setting up the joke of his name: General Shit” (Voices of Zimbabwe: On Noviolet Bulawayo’s “Glory” 2022).
  • Glory definitely isn’t an easy read – it requires effort an energy to stay on track. In other words, it reads like a nonfiction (Bulawayo started Glory as a nonfiction and then switched lanes to satire, which sort of explains why). There are phrases and paragraphs that are hilarious, and there are fragments that I absolutely adored

Here are some articles to read beforehand- they will give you background knowledge on the setting of the story and keep you in the loop. To fully understand what Bulawayo would like to say through this story, skim through these first. 

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/voices-of-zimbabwe-on-noviolet-bulawayos-glory/

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/mar/23/glory-by-noviolet-bulawayo-review-a-zimbabwean-animal-farm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/2022/03/06/glory-noviolet-bulawayo-book-review/

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Within the Branches: An Exploration of The Trees

Our podcast, “Within the Branches: An Exploration of The Trees,” discusses Percival Everetts Booker Prize nominated novel, The Trees. For our podcast cover, we chose the cover of the hit single “Strange Fruit,” by Billie Holiday. The first four lines of this song are:  
“Southern trees bear strange fruit 
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root 
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze 
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.” 
This song represents the many lynchings throughout the USA at the time this song was produced (1939). This novel handles the harsh topic of the lynchings of innocent people, mostly focusing on the south. A case primarily discussed in The Trees was the lynching of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till. Emmett Till was a young African- American boy accused of catcalling a white female grocery store worker, Carolyn Bryant, in Money, Mississippi. After this incident, Till was brutally murdered and lynched because of this accusation. Emmett Till’s murder has gone down in history as one of the most infamous lynchings in history, though it was only one of over 4,700 lynchings in the United States alone between the years of 1882 and 1968. The Trees is both incredibly emotional and dark, while also incorporating the aspect of humor at the same time. We go further into depth about all of these topics in our podcast. Thank you for listening and enjoy! 
 
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Small Things Like These

After just finishing Small Things Like These, I most definitely agree with Ron Charles’s opinion that Claire Keegan has “carved out a profoundly moving and universal story.” Each chapter reads so quickly with simplistic prose and lines that flowed from one to the next, blending into a tale very reminiscent of A Christmas Carol. The beginning chapters led me to contemplate one’s consciousness through day-to-day life, as Bill Furlong seemed to drift from one day to the next without much thought of change. I perceive the ending where Furlong saves the young woman from the laundry center and walks her all of the way home in the snow to be the quintessential Christmas ending as one of compassion, kindness, and hope. The historical references to the Magdalene Laundries was very interesting, and I interpreted the ending as a subtle manner in which to criticize Ireland’s attempt to hide such institutions, as well as condemn the Catholic church for facilitating the imprisonment of fallen women.

Posted in 2022 Booker Prize Short List, booker prize, Collaboration, English IV Honors, Lit Circles, Project-Based Learning, Reading, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Treehouse Talks

Racial injustice drives the plot of The Trees by Percival Everett. Reminiscent of an activist, Everett uses his novel to both criticize the institution of the police force and the ever-present racism in America. He speaks out against these institutions, spreading awareness on issues that should be left in history textbooks as he calls for change.
Posted in #PBL #StudentCentered, 2022 Booker Prize Short List, American Literary Studies, AP Mindset, Book Reviews, booker prize, Percival Everett, Satire | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Small Podcasts like These

Our #Smallthingslikethese #litcircle did a deep podcast discussion on the themes and inspirations of the #ClairKeegan novel. Listen to us break down the main ideas of this Christmas Carol retelling and share our meaningful insights on the message of empathy in a patriarchal and poverty-ridden society. 

Signed, BANJ.

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Oh Podcast!

Our LitCircle is excited to continue to read OhWilliam! , Elizabeth Strout’s shortlisted Booker Prize novel. With every turn of the page, we learn more about Strout’s unique perspective of divorce and marriage, and see the similarities and difference the novel shares with other acclaimed works of literature.
Posted in #PBL #StudentCentered, 2022 Booker Prize Short List, AP Mindset, Brain-Based Learning, English IV Honors | 3 Comments

Beyond the Trees– Episode 1 of the KEA Podcast

This podcast produced by KEA elaborates on the injustices and discrimination found in the Booker Prize nominated novel The Trees by Percival Everett. Even though we have not finished the book, we dug into the themes of racism and stereotypes by elaborating on the fitting book title which encompasses the diverse forms of injustice. The stereotypes mentioned in this podcast help to highlight the discrimination and misogyny that is prevalent in society today. Percival Everett’s satirical angle functions to stress how normalized and problematic racism is in our culture.

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Leveraging this year’s Booker Prize Short List for #PBL

How can we measure academic growth among students regarding their four years journey of reading, thinking, and writing through their high school English class assignments? How can we create a capstone assessment at the top of a 9-12 vertical design that demonstrates their literary skills? Perhaps more importantly for their future reading life and college course selection decisions, how can we ask students to consider carefully what makes a novel meaningful, engaging, and literary? More specifically in each work of fiction, how do we locate a novel’s literary qualities? How can we ask students to apply the literary skills learned in AP Lang and AP Lit for authentic purpose and meaning? In the spirit of our school mission, how can a project encourage opportunities for life-long reading? The answer: #HQPBL We will again leverage this year’s Booker Prize short list novels to create a project-based learning landscape in our curriculum at least two times this year. We will embrace the dynamic power of literature circles, aka #LitCircles, and give everyone an opportunity of choosing a Booker Prize Shortlisted novel from the exciting 2022 list. We will then offer everyone the powerful #VoiceandChoice opportunity to use student-centered discussions to blaze a path for their reading pleasure. While you will have the same fun you had in your middle school #LitCircle, this Senior Honors Course will ask you to begin literary conversations with journalists who write book reviews of your authors and hopefully have you connect directly with your novel’s author. Last year’s class made meaningful connections with all six shortlisted authors. It will be fun to see what happens this year! The first writing topic will have students recall from the last four years of reading their favorite opening scene from any novel and compare that to the opening pages of their new Booker Prize Shortlisted novel. Then students will write about an important theme for theme from their novel, and this will provide a great building block for their collaborative challenge of creating a podcast. Follow our fun literary conversations on Instagram and Twitter to learn more. https://thebookerprizes.com/

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The Ins and Outs of Bewilderment

Suleni Sabio-Arzu (SEL Scholar)

This podcast will describe the relationship between Richard Powers’ Bewilderment and the presence of Social/Emotional Learning in the classroom. Bewilderment is a novel bringing to light the issues that Special Needs Families face on a daily basis. As a Widowed father, Theo Byrne is faced with navigating school relations all on his own. Here is my take on Bewilderment by Richard Powers in relation to the movies Inside Out, a film exploring the social and emotional depths of childhood.

Click Below:

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