When my friend (and fellow English Literature student at Durham University) Alexandra posted a link to her blog Story on the Blue, I immediately asked myself: Why am I not doing this?
And thus, Our Isle Sketches was born.
Alexandra started her blog a few months ago, in which she ‘basically just sketch[es] out impressions/snapshot stories in the voices of terribly unreliable narrators’. These are sketches about home, that is, Mauritius. And they’re wonderful. She’s an extremely talented writer—here’s one of my favourite lines:
His eyes presided over the theatre, deflowering its hymns of adolescent identity as students began their parade.
(from ‘Opening Ceremony‘)
Previously, we’ve had conversations about the difficulty of writing non-English dialogue in English: French-based Mauritian Creole for her, Japanese for me. How do we find the balance between accessibility and comprehensibility, and retaining the authenticity of the original language?
I don’t know, yet. I’ve been mulling over this issue for quite a while, and I’ve made some progress. But I realised, I actually need to experiment, to write in order to figure it out. I was going to wait until I finish my degree, then start writing my novel about Japan, figuring out the best way to write Japanese dialogue, or just writing about Japan in general, along the way. But why not start now?
And so we decided to start a joint blog, writing about the places we call home. The more people who read it, the better. But for the most part, it’s a platform for us to experiment, to try new and bold techniques, e.g. including words, phrases, even sentences entirely in Mauritian Creole or Japanese without any explanations.
Simply put (from the ‘About‘ page):
Our Isle Sketches features stories posted by Alexandra about Mauritius, Justin about Japan, the islands they call home.
A quick author bio, in typical cryptic literary fashion:
Alexandra. 22. Mauritian. Mood Pendulum. Almost-claustrophobic spaces. 6am. 6pm. Too much hair. Too many shirts, too many undone buttons.
Justin. 23. Japanese (at heart). Japlish-speaker. Postmodern Redemption. Too damn skinny. Hear the voices of angels, try to sing like one.
And without further ado, our first introductory post giving you a glimpse of what is to come: ‘the isle is full of noises‘
I was reading a novel by Richard Powers called Galatea 2.2 for my Campus Novel module, and stumbled upon this wholly apt quote spoken by Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 135–6:
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Hopefully, we can convey some of those noises to you. Please, listen.
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