Blog Assignment #9

Hello readers,

With this being the final blog post of the year for ASTU 100A, I wanted to discuss the powerful issues such as war, witnessing, and what it means to be a global citizen; key concepts that we have been discussing over the last few months in class. Through reference of Redeployment by Phil Klay, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, and American Sniper directed by Clint Eastwood, my goal is to unpack these issues of war, witnessing, and global citizenship during a war.

Firstly, I would like to address what it must feel like to arrive in a terror or war stricken country, as opposed to arriving in a country that might contain terror but is not entirely war stricken, prior to being in a complete warzone such as Iraq. In The Reluctant Fundamentalist, when Changez flies into JFK for the first time since 9/11 after having been in the Philippines for business, he is hit hard with the realization that life will never be the same after these terrorist attacks. While the rest of his colleagues from Underwood Samson go through security smoothly, Changez is questioned and even sent to a room in the airport to be inspected, because he is from Pakistan. During Changez trip back to Pakistan to visit his family after 9/11, his parents insist that he goes back to America. Although Changez agrees to go back home to work, he feels reluctant in doing so because he is ashamed for not being able to save his family from war, even though there is nothing that he could possibly do to stop the war.

In contrast to Changez’ experience of returning to America in a post 9/11 world, In Redeployment when Sergeant Price is at the shopping mall with his wife Cheryl, the contrast between witnessing war and being at war a few days prior, to suddenly being safe in a shopping mall in America is surreal for Sergeant Price. He is trapped inside of his head and cannot focus on anything but being prepared and ready to fight. The shopping mall is analogous to a war zone for him, and essentially everything is a war zone.

In American Sniper, Chris Kyle almost attacks his dog at his child’s birthday party because the dog is playfully fighting with his child and his mind see’s the dog as an immediate and severe threat to his child’s life and safety. The concept of going from being forced to kill a child at war because his mother hands him a grenade that poses a severe threat, to being at a birthday party where all children are safe and running around having fun in the sun, is paradoxical and must be incredibly confusing for

Chris Kyle in American Sniper relates heavily to Sergeant Price in Redeployment because they both want to be at home when they are at war, and they want to be back at war when they are home. They can never escape their PTSD. Both Sergeant Price and Chris are both always in either orange, “recognizing a specific potential threat,” or red, “ready to fight.”

In American Sniper, when Chris’ girlfriend calls him into the living room and they witness the twin towers being crashed into on the television, his expression shows that he knows that he has to go back to war to fight for his country. This scene contrasts with Changez experience watching the twin towers go down on his television in his hotel room in Manila, because Changez reaction to the event is immediate happiness. This highlights his anger towards America. In addition, in many ways, Changez views America as the war zone, and Pakistan as his home that he must protect.

In a world of war, what does it mean to be a global citizen? Does war define those that are members of the military? Does their definition of “self,” change? It is profound to recognize the powerful effect that war and terrorism has on that world –  to the extent that it can alter one’s identity, and what they perceive to be their global identity. Both Changez, Sergeant Price, and Chris Kyle all witness war in different ways, and their perception of themselves as a global citizen alters once they are hit with the harsh reality of war and terror.

Blog Assignment #8

Throughout Chapter 1 of Judith Butler’s book titled Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? Butler claims that in that our world, some people’s existences are deemed more significant and important than other people’s existences. A quote that portrays this thought is that “we mourn for some lives but respond with coldness to the loss of others.” Butler also highlights that the media has a large role to play in terms of the discrimination towards certain groups. She uses the inmates at Guantanamo Bay as an example of this, claiming that the “the lives of those at Guantanamo do not count as the kind of ‘human lives’ protected by human rights discourse.” Butler claims that we hear the truth of people’s pain through the Guantanamo Poems, although these people are mostly criminals who should arguably not necessarily be mourned over the loss of their lives. Another example of this concept that Butler does not explicitly mention can be seen in Donald Trump’s lack of regard or empathy for those with coloured skin or who have different religious practices. Discrimination makes us question who gets to have power and whether or not one’s status, political views, and ethnicity determines if people will mourn their death. In terms of Butler’s question surrounding “how do you define who you are vulnerable to?” Judith Butler notes that the very state of being a social being makes us vulnerable, but the question is who is more vulnerable and why? That answer is determined by who has power and who the most powerful leaders then deem to be important as opposed to dangerous. Donald Trump placed a ban on Muslim’s being permitted to enter the country for the safety and protection of America. Not only does this precedent create a bad name for Muslim people, is fear mongering and manifests ignorance, but it is also an opportunity for other minorities to be oppressed and for even non-minorities to be questioned. The fact that friends close to me whom are Caucasian and have been Canadian Citizen’s for their whole lives were questioned at the border very recently, speaks volumes about the impact that Donald Trump’s power has on our world. The Guantanamo Poems portray the inmates as actual human beings as opposed to mere monsters. The point of the matter is that all human beings are precarious to an extent, and life and the world as we know it is dangerous. In some ways, Donald Trump is just as dangerous as the criminals that are locked up in prisons, because he has the power to carry out incredibly destructive acts and to pass wrongful laws that harm millions of people. Butler’s conclusion that we need to start thinking differently in order to prevent the outbreak of more violence in our society, is a step in the right direction. At the end of the day, we need to question the root of the problem – the state of our political leaders. The fact that America is being oppressed by the very xenophobic, homophobic man whom they elected as President, highlights the crisis that America is in. Butler is correct in her view that we need to break down the lies and brainwashing of the media. Sometimes those who are not mourned are the ones who truly should be, and those who are not respected are those who should be called heroes. In our world today we need to begin speaking more truths as opposed to staying more silent.

Blog Assignment #7

On September 11, 2001, the US homeland suffered its worst attack since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. The World Trade Centre in New York, with the iconic Twin Towers at the centre of it, personified the economic might and invincible power of the United States of America, Yet, on that tragic day, when those symbols of the greatness of America were obliterated, innocence was lost, and fear of a new vulnerability took over.

Since September 11th – we have all lived in the “post 9/11 era. It has been a 16 years that has, for many people, been characterized by pervasive suspicion, distrust, insecurity, and yes, fear.

In The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, Changez is sarcastic, hopeful, and confused, throughout the novel. He moves to New York after graduating from Princeton, and is hopeful about his job at Underwood Samson & Company, and about his new life in general. He also falls in love with Erica and appears to be happy with that relationship. On the first page of the book, Changez states that he is a lover of America. However, throughout the novel, Changez relationship with Erica as well as America begins to become more complicated especially after the traumatic events of 9/11. Quickly, his love for the country seems to diminish. When Changez returns from Manila to America after 9/11, he is no longer simply recognized as a resident of New York, but he is instead perceived as a foreigner, and a possible threat, considering that he is Pakistani. This instills a sense of anger, resentment and fear in Changez. He does not feel safe in what is supposed to be his own home anymore. On page 148, his confusion and fear is highlighted when he says, “I lacked a stable core, I was uncertain where I belonged…” The reader finds that Changez relationship with Erica symbolizes and is a microcosm for the state that America is in – it is broken. Erica is fearful, she is mourning her boyfriend who passed away, she is suffering from mental health issues, and she finally goes missing towards the end of the novel. This symbolizes the loss of hope that America experienced when 9/11 occurred, and the overwhelming amount of fear that developed. Finally, it highlights the reality that America is sick and needs to be saved.

Hamid stated that if the reader perceives The Reluctant Fundamentalist to be a thriller, then this means that they are already afraid. Hamid formatted this novel to allow the reader to make his or her own assumptions about what may happen next. Throughout the novel, Changez is recounting his story to a Stranger over dinner. It is up to the reader to decide if that Stranger is a CIA agent who is out to get Changez, or simply a normal businessman. Changez also notes that upon discovering that the events of 9/11 occurred, his immediate reaction was delight. This instills skepticism regarding who Changez really is, and what his motives are. His seemingly sarcastic comments do not put the reader at ease either. Whether or not Changez is dangerous, many readers may not trust him because he jokes and makes light of very serious and fear mongering topics. It is the reader’s choice to decide if Changez is merely joking about his happiness for 9/11, or if he is truly a terrorist himself. But ridden with fear of terrorists, the modern world is constantly on its toes, and so there is frankly no room for humor regarding violence or terrorist attacks.

Today, while our institutions are more intrusive than ever in a concerted and ceaseless effort to “keep us safe” and “fight the war on terrorism”, we seem to be living in a perpetual state of siege. Two wars – Iraq and Afghanistan – and a multitude of lethal local and regional conflicts, and the emergence of a ruthless terrorist group, ISIS, has put us all on edge. This, coupled with the anger at a vast and growing economic chasm between the super-rich, very rich, rich, and the rest of us, has created a toxic brew of anxiety and fear that knows no borders.

The recent election of Donald Trump, a billionaire who has never held public office, is just one manifestation of this angst and anxiousness. Trump is fueling the fear that is rocking many western countries. One particularly abhorrent example of Trump fueling fear is his campaign promising to ban all Muslims entering the country. Whether or not Donald Trump’s motives for saying this were to obtain more votes through fear mongering, or because he is truly serious about making this ban happen, it would frankly be impossible to filter out all Muslim people because it is a religion, and that requires self-reporting. The fact that people voted for Donald Trump despite his nonsensical plan to ban all Muslims, highlights the ignorance that stems from fear in American society in this post 9/11 era.  Although it may make things easier, this fear and anger is not only concentrated in America. We can see the terror all over the world, from the invasion of Iraq, to torture, mass electronic surveillance, much tighter borders being implemented, and more. Other countries notably experiencing these same convulsions include France, Germany, and The United Kingdom, an example being the outcome of the Brexit voting in 2016.

I agree with Hamid’s statement that if a reader of The Reluctant Fundamentalist is reading the book as a thriller, then they are already afraid. Likely, I think that most readers of this novel will read this as a thriller because at a large scale, most members of our society are fear stricken, confused, suspicious, and skeptical of everything. They don’t know who to trust and who to believe anymore. Hamid’s work proves an undeniable truth – that the post 9/11 era has made our world more vulnerable, more fearful and more broken economically, politically than ever, on a global scale.

Blog Assignment #6

Hello readers,

In Safe Area Goražde, Joe Sacco portrays the media and journalists in both a positive and a negative light. These journalists essentially symbolize the modern, privileged and the globalized world. Sacco highlights that the negative side of journalists is the fact that many of them are only in Goražde to cover a story and then leave, and the “Red Carpet” chapter perfectly summarizes this notion and accentuates this idea of simply getting in and getting out. The images on page 8 and 9 of Joe drinking excessively with civilians could be seen as an example of the superficial relationship that many of the journalists share with the civilians. In these panels, they are not discussing the hardships of the war, but they are merely consuming a plethora of alcohol and dancing the night away. This chapter can also be an example of the fact that if journalists do not wish to, they do not need to be apart of the war. They can visit a war torn country or city for a week or two, drink themselves to oblivion, and shortly return to their homes in the free country that they live in.
In addition, the chapter “Go Away” is an example of how many news stations and journalists want to leave Goražde as soon as possible once they obtain eye catching photographs and captivating interviews. An example of this hesitancy to accept the truth of the war is shown when Sacco notes, “‘I wish Goražde would go away,’ I heard one American correspondent say…” (Page 4) This idea of wishing the war away symbolizes the war of erasure, and the ideology that ethnic cleansing will solve all of Bosnia’s problems. This idea is that the act of forgetting history will essentially erase all pain and suffering.
To contrast this, most of the isolated townspeople do not want people from the outside world to “go away.” However, they want them to stay and keep them company, and save them from their traumatic and broken lives. Examples of this yearning for the globalized world can be identified when many girls in Goražde ask Joe to bring them back jeans, and even go as far as to ask him if they can run away with him to America. Riki is also a symbol for this, as he is constantly singing American songs, and discussing his utter love and longing for America. The concept of having contact with a symbol of mobility and globalization such as Joe Sacco instills hope and promise in the townspeople.
This lack of regard for human life from journalists in Goražde is analogous to the paparazzi taking photographs of celebrities in today’s world. Most of these photographers do not have any concern for how taking these photographs will impact the people that they are photographing, and they do not truly acknowledge these celebrities as people, but merely as a source of entertainment and income. The title “Angelina Jolie With No Makeup On,” can be sprawled across the cover of a magazine followed by a photo of her makeup free , because the media does not care or take into account how she might feel about this. The soul motivator of the media industry is making profits, whether that be photographing a war torn country, or publishing photos of celebrities who have “gained excess weight,” for example.
Although many of the reporters are portrayed as merely self-interested and only travelling in this war torn country for self-fulfilling reasons, Sacco himself also sets an example as to how seeing war in real life can make it more accessible, and real, and therefore allowing for people to feel true empathy. Joe becomes friends with many of the people that he was originally just intending on interviewing in Goražde. For example, Eden becomes Joe’s official tour guide of Goražde, and they also become life long friends. Although Joe was originally like most journalists, out of touch of the reality and humanness of the war, by learning the story of the war through individuals that he personally meets along the way, he grows attached to the people that make up Goražde, and to the concept of Goražde itself.
Towards the end of Safe Area Goražde, Joe hopes to himself that Riki will be able to flee Goražde, but he also hopes that one day when he returns to Goražde again, he finds Riki still there. This is an example of the unrealistic and often selfish and detached nature of the reporter and the privileged person coming through in Sacco. Joe has the luxury of returning home to America, but he almost doesn’t wish that luxury for his friends in Goražde, because he idealizes the idea of his friends remaining where he found them, in the place that he grew to love.
Safe Area Goražde highlights the positive attributes of learning a story through the person actually experiencing it, as opposed to formulating one’s opinions about the story by merely reading something that was published in a magazine by a reporter or a journalist.

Until next time,



Blog Assignment #5

Hello readers,

Last week, while the members of my ASTU class were on a field trip at Irving Library at the Kogawa Fonds, I was sick and was unfortunately not able to attend. So, instead of discussing that experience with you, I will be discussing a topic of my choice. In relation to our recent literature review in exploring technologies of memory, and the three main books that we read this semester with main themes of memory as well as struggle and hardship, I have chosen to discuss the concept of repression of memory. I am also going to be relating information that I have learned form my Gender Studies class to the abuse that Naomi experiences in Obasan.

Throughout Obasan, Naomi is expected to repress her past of sexual abuse, being influenced especially by her mother. Traditional Japanese culture often wants to try to repress memories that are tainted, to prevent dealing with feelings such as shame and sadness for example. “When a Japanese woman is raped or sexually abused, most often she has no one to help her.” (Japan’s Battlers of Sex Abuse Confront Culture, Law) Yuko Yamaguchi, who is the director of Japan’s oldest feminist organization says, “‘the reluctance to act against sexual violence in Japan can be tied to society’s ‘traditional male domination and the pressure to understate individual emotions for the sake of group harmony.’” (Japan’s Battlers of Sex Abuse Confront Culture, Law)

In Gender Studies this semester, I had to read My Year of Meats, by Ruth Ozeki. This novel discusses important issues such as abuse, abortion, the meat industry, and racism, just to name a few. Jane and Akiko are both Japanese and they both come from a background of repressing their emotions. Although Jane is American, she too puts on a hard face when the going get’s tough. Jane experiences a miscarriage, and instead of embracing her with loving arms when she hears the news, her mother asks her what she has done wrong to bring this miscarriage on. In Akiko’s case, she was married to her husband John Ueno without any real choice of the matter. He met her and decided she would make a good wife and make good babies and so he chose her. And, she was too vulnerable and young to really stop those series of events from happening. In this novel, Akiko is raped by her husband. After this traumatic event, she spends days bleeding, and John finds her on the bathroom floor having fainted. Instead of receiving sympathy when she is brought to the hospital, the doctors immediately assume that Akiko’s husband is a wonderful man because he was the one that brought her there.

Jane and John are business partners for a television show, and when Jane tries to help John back to his room at a hotel when he is drunk, he tries to rape Jane. Both Jane, Akiko and Naomi are all expected to repress their emotions and memories associated with traumatic events. Although my group for the technologies of memory assignment defined technologies of memory as items such as heirlooms, artifacts, tattoos, and anthems that strike memory in some way, our minds can also be a technology of memory. If society is encouraged to repress memories of violence, no one will be able to learn from these events in history, and no one will be able to help make a difference for the future. Although Naomi acknowledged the fact that silence doesn’t always have to be a negative thing, speaking up is a valuable resource for all victims of abuse. No matter how difficult it is to “remember” traumatic events again, in the long run, it is the most definitive and positive course of action to help victims of abuse.


Works Cited:

Kakuchi, Suvendrini, Catherine Makino, and Tessa Morris-Suzuki. “Japan’s Battlers of Sex Abuse Confront Culture, Law.” Women’s ENews. N.p., 17 Sept. 2009. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.

Blog Assignment #4

Hello readers,

In this blog post I would like to discuss trauma and pain stemming from negative experiences and discourse. This topic is not only an important issue in the book “Obasan” by Joy Kogawa, but it is also a serious issue that people are dealing with day to day, in our everyday lives. “Obasan” is still so relevant today, not only because it is an important work of Canadian Literature, but also due to the fact that it is essentially a true record of historical trauma. Japanese internment caused a great deal of trauma and pain for thousands of the families involved – And this pain and suffering did not simply go away when Japanese internment was over. Japanese people had to very slowly regain their rights back and fight for what was right. The redress movement was a movement to provide financial compensation for all of the Japanese people still alive prior to Japanese internment. Although this movement was instilled to help rehabilitate these people and to allow them to start their lives again, compensation cannot simply be provided for trauma. An apology is necessary in order to help aid the healing process, but it is in a sense putting a band aid on a very deep wound. It takes decades to regain the strength and equality of a society when something as tragic and unjust such as Japanese internment occurs.

In light of the issue of trauma in our globalizing world, the very recent elect of Donald Trump as President of the United States has caused a great deal of pain for millions of Americans, and even citizens of other countries around the world. Members of the nation-state are rightly-so dealing with fear of losing their voice in their own nation, and being prejudiced against, a concern that especially minorities are dealing with. To quote “Obasan”, “Aunt Emily says to Naomi, “As long as we have politicians and leaders and media people who feast on people’s fears, we’ll continue making scapegoats” (Obasan Page 35). People are trying to instill hope in the nation by upholding the “some day” mentality, also discussed in “Obasan.” By calling Donald Trump names including “bigot” and “Oompa Loompa,” people feel comforted by the fact that they are all mutually speaking up for an unjust politician. That being said, negative words do not help to spread greatness, and they do not help nations to heal from the trauma and pain caused by unjust politicians, and the corrupt ideologies stemming from Japanese Internment. The solutions that state that “some day” we will have a better President, and “some day” we will be a better nation, do not help with pain and trauma. Again, these are temporary band aids that will not fix anything in the long run. If we want to implement significant and positive change in our world on a global scale, we need to face the true facts about what is wrong, without letting these realities take over our lives. We must allow ourselves to feel pain and experience trauma, and relive the traumatic experiences by talking about them, like Naomi’s family finally does at the end of “Obasan.”

The key to getting through political unrest and traumatic suffering of any kind, is to acknowledge the issues at hand, and find the strength to take action and walk through the struggle, with a deep passion to cultivate change.

Blog Assignment #3

Hello readers,

Throughout my time in ASTU100 thus far, I have learned a significant amount about academic culture and writing that has altered my view regarding what it truly means to be an academic scholar. I have learned what it means to be critical in scholarly writing, and also how to address scholars without being disrespectful towards their works. In a recent ASTU100 lecture, Professor Luger noted the difference between what most students think of when they hear the word criticism, and what criticism means in academic writing. Professor Luger stated that in academic writing, criticism is “expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art.” I have come to the realization that it is important to be respectful towards other scholars in academic writing for a variety of reasons; mainly due to the fact that writing takes time, and it is important to show one’s respect for the amount of time and thought that goes into writing various works. An example of positive and negative criticisms that comes to mind for me is when I was in high school and we began to learn how to conduct a debate, and criticize our opponent’s argument. My teacher always enforced the fact that when we make our rebuttal, it is important to speak articulately, with respect towards our opponent. My teacher wanted to stress the fact that when you criticize respectfully, both the audience, and your opponent will respect you and listen to your argument much more intently. Thinking back on this lesson that I learned in high school during debate lessons, I have concluded that this rule of thumb applies when critiquing authors of scholarly writing as well. Sometimes it is difficult to express opinions that we are very passionate about, without coming across as offensive, however academic writing is a good practice for critiquing carefully and thoughtfully, with solid arguments to back up said argument.

Criticism can sometimes be less obvious than expected. An example of respectful critique can be identified in Matthew Bolton’s, “Well-Told Lie.” In this scholarly article, Bolton states, “Thus, in addition to concerns that Ondaatje has not sufficiently met the responsibility his ethnicity creates, Christopher’s account of Lalla’s death and his alternative depiction of Mervyn raise concerns that Running is factually inaccurate as well.” (Well-Told Lie)

Another lesson that I have learned about academic writing is that before writing a summary, it is always important to follow a series of steps. Before doing anything, it is vital to read the abstract while taking notes, which is the basic “gist” of the work, or essentially, the summary of the work. What surprised me most about preparing to summarize, is that it is expected of the writer to read the summary before summarizing. Another point that I found interesting is that it is also assumed that the writer of the summary will read the work at least two times before determining what the the main argument is and how it is being argued.

To conclude, I have accumulated a significant amount of knowledge regarding academic and scholarly writing so far in ASTU100, and I have realized that academic writing is a completely new world compared to the writing that I was familiar with conducting throughout high school. Academic writing is an art that cannot be learned overnight, but it takes thoughtful practice, and dedication towards following the many complex rules of academic writing, such as critiquing scholars and their works respectfully, and preparing to summarize, to name a few.


Works Cited:

Matthew Bolton (2008) Michael Ondaatje’s “Well-Told Lie”, Prose Studies

Blog Assignment #2

Hello readers. In this blog post, I will be discussing how “Running in the Family” by Michael Ondaatje has altered my view of what a memoir truly is. This book was a very challenging read, and I was initially even more perplexed by Ondaatje as an author when I discovered that this book is in fact a “fictional memoir.”

More often than not, when we hear the word memoir, we think of a first person’s account of a memory and life event. However, Ondaatje chose to manipulate what he knows as his family history, and change certain events and characteristics to adjust the story to how he wanted the events to unfold. He also chosen to fill in some unknown gaps by writing his own take on what might have happened. In Matthew Bolton’s “Well-Told Lie,” Bolton highlights Ondaatje’s alterations on the truth when he mentions that his “historical accuracy has also come under attack, both from academic circles and from within his own family.” (Well-Told Lie) In Bolton’s scholar, Ernest MacIntyre states that Running is “a triumph of poetic truth.”  (Well-Told Lie) That being said, Ondaatje’s brother, Christopher Ondaatje, has written his own biography of their father, and in this biography he states that contrary to what Michael Ondaatje states, their grandmother Lalla did not die in a flood but she actually died of alcohol poisoning. (Well-Told Lie)

So, is “Running in The Family” a true memoir? What feels slightly unauthentic about Ondaatje’s memoir, is the fact that memoir’s are supposed to be linked as close to the truth as possible. I feel that it is unfair to call something a memoir if one has blatantly manipulated history and altered major events in a piece of writing that is actually supposed to be mostly factual. That being said, I think that Ondaatje’s creative perspective on this “fictional memoir,” has proven to be a beneficial way to link family history and Ondaatje’s vague connection to it. After much analysis of the book, I have concluded that Ondaatje has written a metafiction: a story about telling a story. Throughout the historiographic book, Ondaatje makes up for the fact that this is a “fictional memoir” by including authentic photographs, maps, and shifting the dialogue and conversation so that the reader can get to know the perspective of other family members. These sources and different mediums make Ondaatje’s book a much more reputable source for the history of the Ondaatje’s.

For example, on page 145, Ondaatje inserts a photo of his parents together when they were younger. Ondaatje describes this photo that his Aunt has shown him as “the photograph I have been waiting for all my life.” (Ondaatje 143) Although Ondaatje was not there when the photo was taken, he is using information that his Aunt has given him, and also making assumptions and observations based on the actual photograph. This is an example of what we discussed in class, the notion that history is passed along and pieced together, and some pieces are maybe lost and or found along the way.



Another example of Ondaatje’s use of different mediums is on page 77, when we are introduced to the poem The Cinnamon Peeler. This poem is clearly about marriage and love, and it describes the wife as cinnamon by describing “in detail, which areas of the woman’s body would smell of cinnamon dust,” for example. (Poetry for Students) The poem links back to Ondaatje’s Sri Lankan roots, by describing the “yellow bark dust” that originates from the bark of a Sri Lankan evergreen tree. (Poetry for Students)

Ondaatje also incorporates dialogue from other characters, to make this book much more rich with history. On page 155, the chapter called “Dialogues,” is introduced. In this chapter, Ondaatje is discussing his father, except he uses texts from other characters, presumably his siblings and relatives, to allow the reader to gain another perspective. By hearing from other characters, we can learn what certain people thought about Ondaatje’s father. An example of this is the contrasting dialogues, “I remember when Daddy lost his job. He had just been sacked and he was drinking,” compared to “To us he was an utterly charming man, always gracious.” (Ondaatje 156-57).

In an article in the Irish Times called “Why I love: Michael Ondaatje’s Running in The Family,’ by Rosita Boland, she highlights the fact that Ondaatje “interviewed whatever family members remained, about those who were dead: ‘I wanted to touch them into words.’” (Why I Love: Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family). Boland also notes that Ondaatje “travelled the railways his family had taken, went to the houses and race-courses and harbors they had been at. His own wife and children came from Canada and joined him for part of the time, and he walked with them in heat and monsoon, trying continually to return to a place where no one can ever go – the past.” I think that this statement proves a lot about what kind of an author Ondaatje is, the dedication that he had to writing this “fictional memoir,” and his motivation to write the most accurate and creative depiction of his family history as possible.

Lastly, Boland mentions that this book is a “liberation from the academic world,” (Why I Love: Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family) inferring that Ondaatje’s creative spin on a memoir is refreshing, and allows for more opportunity for reflection on the reader’s part. I would have to agree with this statement, because although not all of the information in this book is factually correct, this book is a whole new take on a family memoir. I stated earlier that I initially thought that this book was unauthentic, however it is authentic for the fact that Ondaatje has gone to great lengths to compile all of the facts that he could. By incorporating creativity to make up the rest of the unknown, and using various medians to express this history, Ondaatje has crafted a wonderful memoir. This memoir is authentic because it highlights the fact that memory is often blurry, and sometimes we don’t have the luxury to know all of the answers. This memoir is special because it has a great deal of Ondaatje’s emotion attached to it. Sometimes the unknown allows for opportunities for creativity, like Ondaatje has been bold enough to explore. Throughout “Running in The Family” Ondaatje is saying, “This is what I know, and this is what I don’t know. This is what I think might have happened, and this is what I wish would have happened.” And for those reasons, that is why “Running in The Family” has proven to be such a captivating read.


Works Cited:

Boland, Rosita. “Why I Love: Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family.” The Irish Times. N.p., 13 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

The Cinnamon Peeler.” Poetry for Students. 12 Oct. 2016<

Matthew Bolton (2008) Michael Ondaatje’s “Well-Told Lie”, Prose Studies

Ondaatje, Michael. Running in the Family. New York: Vintage International, 1993. Print.


Blog Assignment #1


Hello readers,

My name is Alex Veniez, and on this page you will find all of my blog posts written over the course of the year for my ASTU100A writing class. As a new student enrolled in the Coordinated Arts Program Global Citizens stream at the University of British Columbia, the professors are constantly encouraging us to question what it truly means to be a global citizen. Upon entering my first CAP class at UBC, I thought that I already knew what a global citizen was. I thought that the answer was fairly concrete, and that it was something along the lines of, “a member of society who is inquisitive about global issues and is driven to help their community and the world at large, become a better place.” We often think of a global citizen as someone who attributes heroic qualities. But what is a hero? After delving into the assigned reading of Persepolis for our ASTU100A class, and having begun drawing conclusions about the text and overall story of Persepolis, my straightforward answer has changed.

Persepolis was written by Marjane Satrapi, however, the protagonist, and the little girl revealing her childhood during the Iran Iraq war to the readers, is Marji. Marji takes the readers hand, and invites them on a journey with her. Marji is what I would call a true global citizen. At only ten years old, Marji faces life after the Iranian Revolution with a headstrong attitude, and has already formulated her own political beliefs. She is completely against wearing the hijab, however, growing up in a secular society, she has had no choice but to give into this suppression and oppression. As the story of Persepolis progresses, and the more violence Marji faces, the more immune to fear she becomes. She becomes a rebel who is not afraid to wear her beloved Goth clothing along with her hijab. This choice in clothing style is a statement that says, “I am oppressed but I am going to continue to voice my anger against this oppression.”

In 2016, we can still observe people like Marji, taking a stand against the hijab. In Iran, men have begun donning their wives and other family member’s hijab’s. (The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.) This is a fearless attempt to show anger towards the imprisonment that occurs towards women who choose not to wear hijabs in Iran. The fact that men, who are much less oppressed in Iranian society, are too, rebelling against Iran’s strict laws, says to me that a movement for equality has begun. In addition, women have also begun shaving their heads and dressing as men, so that they can avoid wearing hijabs. (The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.) Iranian women have also started recording themselves walking in public without the hijab. This is a silent protest, that demonstrates courage. (The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.)

In one of my recent Political Science lectures, my professor Dr. Erikson mentioned something to the extent of, at some point as global citizens, we will have to start forming our own opinions about issues concerning religion and politics. After reading Persepolis, and thinking about the many people who have stood up against the oppression that is the hijab, my perspective on what a global citizen is has expanded. A global citizen is someone who has a solidified stance on global issues that matter to them. A global citizen by no means knows everything about these issues, but they are constantly inquiring and trying to accumulate more knowledge. Similarly, to Marji, they are fearless when it comes to speaking their mind about what they feel is oppression, and what they feel is freedom.

Works Cited:

The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.