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Dreams and Other Ailments

ISBN: 1-928589-13-8

By Teresa Bevin
Review by: Moira Richards

07/06

Dreams and Other Ailments is a book of short stories printed on its odd numbered pages in English, and on the even, in Spanish. I don’t speak or understand Spanish so I couldn’t enjoy the fullest delights of these tales, but even so I was charmed by the upside-down question and exclamation marks that punctuated the pages opposite the ones I was reading!

I am fluently bilingual (English and Afrikaans) and yet am still not able to translate literary works near adequately, from my mother tongue into my second. There is such uniqueness of idiom and allusion that is nigh impossible to carry from one language to another, that reading a skillful work and its translation can be like the pleasure of listening to two different singers singing the same song. And I am sorry I was only able to hear one of Teresa Bevin’s ‘songs’.

The stories are of men and women from her native Cuba. Some are set in that country, others are about its citizens living in the US. Many stories include characters who glide in and out from that other world on the other side of death. Many of them show the hard side of life - both for the people living in Cuba who sometimes wish to escape the country, and also for those who do manage to immigrate to a foreign country, foreign culture. But there are also stories of love and joy and a particularly delightful account of how a nosy neighbor was cured of peeping over the garden wall.

I’m noticing more and more, the publication of bi and multi-lingual books and journals and perhaps this is the way to prevent non-mainstream languages (and cultures) from being drowned by globalization. As well as a way to bridge the divides between the world’s peoples.

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