Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

T he trip was a quick ten days spent mostly with family in London. Towards the end of our stay, my husband and I paired up with my sister and her husband on a short drive to the English countryside. We stopped at Stonehenge and then made our way to Cheddar Gorge to explore the dark cave—eerie and adorned with limestone.

All the while I was at Stonehenge, I kept thinking of V. S. Naipaul’s Enigma of Arrival set in Wiltshire, the same town where Stonehenge is located. As we travelled through the most spectacular landscapes—rolling hills covered with bright green grasses, cottages and stone fences, I realized that so much of my fantasies about the English countryside is tied to Naipaul’s deeply evocative semi-biographical work.

We were in Bath the following day to see the Roman baths when my husband and I stumbled upon Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights. An emporium—coined from the Greek word for market—is a place where a great many variety of things are sold. Mr. B’s Emporium is just such a place with a very fine collection of titles in fiction, psychology, philosophy, history, the classics and so on crammed in a small three-floor flat.

As I explored the shelves and made my way up the narrow staircases, I realized for the first time why independent book shops are cool. Stores like Waterstone and Barnes and Noble are warehouses. Indie book shops are curated collections. They source and collect books with the taste of seasoned book lovers in mind. They are driven by what Jorge Luis Borges calls “the ineffable leaps of taste,” which accounts for the daring randomness of their collections.

I made away with a few finds: Ian Sansom’s homage to the baffling world of paper titled Paper: An Elegy. I started reading it on the drive back to London and can say for certain that it is far too delightful a read to be an elegy. I bought Italo Calvino’s Why Read the Classics for myself and The Collector of Sand for a dear friend— both are collections of essays.

Enjoy the random bits of photographs that chronicle my travels. Look out for the photo of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. My husband and I attended the midnight mass in the stunningly beautiful church more as a tourist attraction than anything else. But we quickly realized that there was no way to remain indifferent in a space like that.

Despite the irreverence of our reason for attending, it soon became clear to us that St. Paul is one of those places that the German philosopher, Heidegger, describes as “solemn buildings that since time immemorial granted healing.” If you are a believer, you go there to be “cured of your suffering.” If you’re a non-believer, as we both were, you might “experience the suffering of the disappearing gods.” Either way, places like St. Paul does something to you.

DR Bs Emporium

IMG_1680IMG_1672

IMG_1670

Always a pleasure to find African authors.

DR Bs Emporium 2

Stone Henge 3

Stonehenge. 2400 BC

IMG_1353

Dusk at Custom House

Shopping

Pretty holiday lights somewhere around Oxford Circle.

Saint Paul

Tags: , , , , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

The Heart of It: Working Through Xenophobia in South Africa | Ruksana Elk

XENOPHOBIA - South African civil society and private citizens march in protest against xenophobic violence in Johannesburg. EPA-EFE and Yeshiel Panchia

READ: 15 Pieces to Guide Your Understanding of Xenophobia in (South) Africa Talking xenophobia with South Africans of all classes […]

The Brittle Paper Interview with the Caine Prize 2019 Winner: Lesley Nneka Arimah

Lesley Nneka Arimah with bust of Sir Michael Caine - credit to John Cobb slash Caine Prize

In July, Lesley Nneka Arimah received the 2019 Caine Prize, the award’s twentieth edition, for her short story “Skinned,” published […]

Hollywood or Nollywood? As Americanah TV Series Goes to HBO, Actress Stella Damasus Suggests Industry Slight & Chika Unigwe Responds

danai gurira, lupita nyong'o, chimamanda adichie, stella damasus, chika unigwe

The Americanah TV series adaptation, starring Lupita Nyong’o and written by Danai Gurira, has been ordered by HBO Max. The […]

15 Pieces to Guide Your Understanding of Xenophobia in (South) Africa

xenophobia in south africa - photo by guillerme sartori for agence france press and getty images

Once again, this September, xenophobic violence was unleashed on other Africans, mostly Nigerians, in South Africa: businesses were closed, shops […]

Johary Ravaloson’s Return to the Enchanted Island Is the Second Novel from Madagascar to Be Translated into English

johary ravaloson - winds from elsewhere - graph (1)

In May 2018, we brought news of the first novel by a writer from Madagascar to be translated into English: […]

Sundays at Saint Steven’s | Davina Philomena Kawuma | Poetry

unsplash3

when god runs out of money (how, no one says) once a week, these days, we come to where the […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.