Literatures of Migration… and a Game

Dr. Vinh Nguyen is teaching English 280, Literatures of Migration, next semester (T/Th 11:30-1pm). It’s a study of migration in literary and cultural texts and features authors like Junot Díaz, Randa Jarrar, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kim Thúy, and more—including Susanna Moodie! So I thought a game would be fun. I’ve chosen excerpts from a number of the texts below; can you guess which one is by the iconic 19thC Canadian author Susanna Moodie? (Hint: she’s not the one writing about dal puri.) Have fun!

Play the game: Spot the Susannah Moodie!

“For your information, Mother, it’s 1969. What would you do if you actually left the house one day and saw a girl in a miniskirt?”
Mrs. Croft sniffed. “I’d have her arrested.”

Wait a minute, says the Indians, that is not a good idea. That is a bad idea. That is a bad idea full of bad manners.

The fish in the sink is dying slowly. It has a glossy sheen to it, as if its skin is made of shining minerals. I want to prod it with both hands, its body tense against the pressure of my fingers. If I hold it tightly, I imagine I will be able to feel its fluttering heart. Instead, I lock eyes with the fish. You’re feeling verrrry sleepy, I tell it. You’re getting verrrry tired.

I’ve been to India several times since the seventies. But I’ve never found the dal puri or rotis I grew up with in the Caribbean. To unravel this nagging mystery, I began retracing roti’s long and meandering journey.

I was sweating because I was scared and because it was 104 degrees outside, but I kept reading aloud about the girl who liked to ski. My pronunciation was awful and Mrs. Caruthers was obviously and irritably in need of a drink.

I moved forward in the trace of their footsteps as in a waking dream where the scent of a newly blown poppy is no longer a perfume but a blossoming: where the deep red of a maple leaf in autumn is no longer a colour but a grace; where a country is no longer a place but a lullaby.

We had every reason to be thankful for the firmness displayed by our rough commander. That same evening we saw eleven persons drowned, from another vessel close beside us while attempting to make the shore.

Maybe the swimming pool is the hangout of some racist group, bent on eliminating all non-white swimmers, to keep their waters pure and their white sisters unogled.

We left Cuba so you could dress like this? My father will ask over my mother’s shoulder. [I’ll say] Christ, we only left Cuba because Fidel beat him in that stupid swimming race when they were little.

Our hero was not one of those Dominican cats everybody’s always going on about – he wasn’t no home-run hitter or a fly bachatero, not a playboy with a million hots on his jock. And except for one period early in his life, dude never had much luck with the females (how very un-Dominican of him).


One response to “Literatures of Migration… and a Game

  1. Pingback: The Thinnest Line: English’s Dr. Vinh Nguyen |

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