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Trifles is a multicultural novel you'll find relevant in your daily life; especially those who live in multicultural societies. It tells a story of how good-intentioned and naive young ones can be. Young ones see the world in black and white; no gray area. Something is either there or not there; it's either right or wrong! However, as they grow up, they tend to see that life is not that clear cut. They realize that there are things that are regarded highly without explanations. There are also things that are churned without reason as to why. They also come to learn that being good goes so far.
Those who try to be good, especially the privileged in multicutlural societies, realize also that it comes at a cost, minimum it might be.
Undeterred by the suffocating requirements of discretion in a multicultural environment, Angelina grows into a walking questionnaire; making everyone concerned. However, not everyone becomes as concerned as Angelina's father, Oliver. Knowing the unnerving racial questions his daughter bluntly asks, Oliver makes it his life-long endeavor to find out why his daughter talks like a forty-year old lady trapped in ten-year old girl's body.
Knowing that his daughter's best friend is Sudanese-Canadian, Oliver believes Angelina's Sudanese friend (Adut) is the cause of his daughter's strange racial blathers. As Oliver realizes that his study of the little girl has led to obsession, Jacqueline loses her memory in a car accident, Norton, Angelina's tutor, dies of car accident, Adut is threatened with expulsion from the school after a fight, and Ayen's family gets mysterious visits from police officers. Oliver and his daughter further suffocate with discretion as suspicion fills the air.
Why you should read TRIFLES
Fictional portrayal of Ups and Downs of Multiculturalism in Canada.
However, trying to be different in a way the majority doesn't understand is akin to being insane. That is why social evangelism of who others are should be emphasized. No one should be forced to get along with people one doesn't know or doesn't understand. However, one has to be urged to put in efforts to make sure that people one doesn't understand are understood.
If one is to stay away from people of different characters, social inclinations and races, then one has to have a good, unbiased reason for doing so.
As much as one would want to believe that the mainstream is to blame for most of the problems faced by the minority in multicultural societies, the minority has to also make sure that they are understood (in a good way). Taking things at face-value should be controlled.
I can't fault an old 'white' lady who is afraid of me because she'd seen someone like me on TV doing something bad. However, I have to get rid of her innocence by making sure she understands who I am. I can't simply ran with the mantra of racism when she might be swimming in innocent subconsciousness.
Trifles tells you some problems faced by immigrants (Sudanese in this case) and their good friends; those who've embraced them wholeheartedly. You'll be introduced to Adut and Angelina. They're young girls who think they can change the world by making sure everyone says exactly what is in the heart. They soon realize that their viewpoint will take their parents; Ayen, Jacqueline and Oliver, on a social ride of inter-racial uneasiness that nearly destroyed their families.
Trifles includes the effect of being too discreet, the relationship of immigrants with the police, and the relationship of the rich and the poor. How young men of African origin are perceived by Canadian meanstream is presented with both begrudging and ungrudging simplistic straightforwardness.
Watch TRIFLES subject trailer: www.youtube.com/watch
YOU'LL HAVE YOUR 'HAIRS' RAISED...READ IT TO BELIEVE IT.
READ SAMPLE CHAPTER
Ayen always believed her children were good. She wasn’t wrong. She wasn’t right either. They saw the world differently, radically, and fearlessly. For that, they weren’t good children. When an officer knocked on their door that day, she knew something was wrong. But the world was too big for her to place the niche of that wrong.
“Neighbors complain about excessive noise here. We’d appreciate if you could keep it down.”
The lady officer had sounded overly polite and professional as her partner, a man, looked on. Ayen was too hurt to say a word. She peered arrogantly and fixedly at the lady officer. Seeing the fiery eyes being aimed at her, the lady said: “good night, ma’am” and walked way.
But it wasn’t to be the end of such mysterious visits from orders’ humans.
She always had this thought that whatever happens in life has a purpose. She isn’t alone; many people have the same belief too. The proof of it is, perhaps, an idler’s quest. Believing it works for the majority. The orders’ humans visited again a day later.
As Ayen and her daughter approached the door, two officers came. Adut looked at the officers, ignored them and entered the living room.
“What’s happening officer… sir? I hope I didn’t blow anything.” Ayen found herself stuttering, staring in awe and still holding the door open.
The officer looked less serious, his partner even laughing.
A parking ticket? Noise complaint again?
The officer sighed and looked at his partner; his dark blue bullet-proof overcoat exaggerating the light blue shirt inside. For Ayen, the first time an officer stood by her door was a call for help that later ended badly. That was a genuine call though. The second time was an utter absurdity.
It isn't worth my thoughts.
Ayen fell out with Kuot before Adut was born and they separated. Kuot was, then, deranged by alcohol. The young man had learned so much so he never called nor visited, but when he heard of baby Adut’s birth, the doorbell to Ayen’s door chimed.
It was freaky. Ayen had stared surprised than frightened. But the young man had come to have his heart warmed. He knew the task was straight uphill, though.
My own blood and flesh should be named after my late mother.
That was what Kuot wanted: simple and hearty.
However, Ayen had her own heart-warming thoughts and plans. She’d suffered more than enough and the arrival of Adut was symbolic to her. It had a cleansing significance.
“Adut!” She’d beamed happily when the ultra-sound revealed it was a girl. Her grand-mother, Adut, had been her prototype. Naming Adut after her was a consolation after such a trying and traumatic past.
“Ma’am, do you know this kid? I’m sorry! My name’s Fox, this is my partner, Ronnie,” the officer asked showing Ayen a color picture. Ayen woke up from her brief entry into the past and looked at the photo. The photo showed a deep black woman holding a white kid’s hand. The woman’s face wasn’t visible. The boy – of about eight – had a brown hair and little, long, bend-forward Caucasoid nose. His brown t-shirt had a big black butterfly drawn on his chest. The boy had a shirt, with tiny brown boxes fussed all over it, hanging on his shoulder. The boy’s pupils appeared scary red. His face was wrinkled with sadness.
“Yes,” Ayen finally said after scanning the picture, slowly. The officer held onto the photo.
“Good. Is that you in the picture?”
Chol came to the door. He suddenly stopped at the sight of police.
Police? What did mum do?
“I don’t know what this is about officer. Can you fill me in?” Ayen mechanically asked.
“I don’t know either ma’am. What we need to know is whether that’s you.”
Ayen hesitated, her blood starting to boil, anger neurons gathering and rushing to her head for orders.
“Unless you tell me what’s happening officer… I’d ask you to leave my house.”
“Unless you tell us what we want ma’am, you could be going a long way.”
“Accused, you mean?” Chol found himself saying.
They stared strangely at Chol then nodded.
“Dude, this happens to us everyday on the streets, so you can…”
Ayen raised her hand and Chol faithfully stopped.
“I hope you’ll answer the question ma’am.”
“You don’t expect me to give answers to questions I don’t understand, do you?”
“Don’t pretend not to know what we’re saying.”
Ayen’s bitterness surged. She stared at the officers. Why me?
“Your son said…let me assume he’s your son…”
“Of course he is!”
“Well then…I mean good,” the second officer said with a sigh and hesitated. “He said it happens to you everyday. Are you shown this photo everyday or was that something else?”
Chol tried to push his way forward but Ayen barricaded him with an arm across his chest.
“You guys came to me, so speak to me.”
“We never came to you, we came for information about you, and if we find that information from someone else, we’ll be happy,” he paused and continued. “Your son said something that might relate to what we’re saying.’ A moment passed as they all stared.
“Look ma’am,” the first officer said,” I know you have so many thoughts going through your mind right now. You might think of things you see on TV and relate them to us…”
“Anyway, whatever we say about ourselves, in relation to us might not be of interest to you. Who we are is an organ in your brain.”
Chol was overflowing with anger, but Ayen was fixed solidly on his way.
She grabbed the picture and looked at the officers one by one.
“Without knowing what this is all about, let me say this. I’m a school teacher and that means I deal with children. That, I assume you guys know. Second, I wear suits to school. Again, you might be true to assume that the woman in the picture is me. I wear the same type of suit.”
She took a long pause as the officers stared silently at her.
“What doesn’t click even to someone of my little brain is this: the face of the woman has been blurred, she wears stockings, and beneath the suit, she has a long sleeved shirt or pull-over, I presume.
“In the second picture, all I can see is a woman’s back and….”
“Now you’ve become a lawyer, eh?”
Chol couldn’t take it any longer. He pushed his way towards the officers.
“I bet you know what it means to assault an officer.”
Chol stopped in front of them as his mum struggled to steady herself.
“You could have knocked her head onto the wall, mummy’s boy.”
Chol fumed, but what could he do? They had the law with them, for them and about them. In essence, they were the law. Restraint was all that was needed, nothing more, and nothing less. Chol was smart enough to know that the officers played with words to lure people into wrong-doing for wrong justification. These officers had not broken any law, but they were breaking his heart; something no law protected.
“If you don’t mind officers, then leave my family alone. If you want anything then take me to the station. Don’t bring this before my family. I hope you have children and none of you would want such a thing in front of children.”
Ayen spoke with subdued voice that exaggerated her emotions.
One of the officers found the words too sharp to contain. They were the truth. He had two beautiful daughters. Sympathy spiraled through his veins.
“I’m sorry ma’am. I too….”
“You’re surely sorry,” the other less compromising officer said. “Here mummy’s little boy is about to cry.”
Chol felt a black sheet over his face. He couldn’t see anything: the pain, the emotion, the helplessness, the sorrow, all woven into a neat artistry. Everything he saw blinded him. He felt like a blind man who’d been hit by someone he couldn’t see. Yet luck serviced him selflessly to clear his opponent with a divine blow.
A Solid Offering that Explores the Family Dynamic of People in a New Country
In Trifles, author Kuir ë Garang shows us parenting from a perspective that many who are born in North America may not consider: multiculturalism. That is, parents who want the best for their children in their new country, and who seek to embrace new traditions, but who also struggle with keeping alive the established traditions of their homeland. This is difficult for parents who have emigrated and are raising their children here. As for the children, it can seem quite overwhelming, as they are born into a multicultural society and must strive to fit in, while on the other hand, their parents find it important to teach them the ways of their homeland.
Consider the main character of the book, Angelina, and her family: Father Oliver and Mother Jacqueline. We see early on that Angelina is a child who is prone to speaking her mind and asking things that we, as adults, may consider odd or downright uncomfortable. In fact, Angelina, it seems, speaks as one much older than her tender years. This, of course, has her father trying to understand exactly why she is this way.
What makes this book unique is that we are made to feel a part of the family from the opening chapter. It deftly weaves the family’s history around a present day narrative. Authentically written, the reader feels as though he/she is actually there, whether it is at the breakfast table, with Angelina being tutored, or even in conversation with Angelina and her tutors. The author’s style is very relaxed and successfully draws the reader into the story, and while there are several larger issues at play (school troubles, police involvement, sudden illness), the story is grounded with the more mundane side of things, such as a family breakfast for instance.
This allows the reader to identify with the family, as everyone has had these experiences. Finally, Trifles is written in such a way that anyone can pick it up and immediately be drawn into the story—anticipating each subsequent scene.
Reviewed by Erik Heyl
BOOK REVIEW: Presenting Strong Family Values with Sound Philosophical and Multicultural Edge
When I first got Trifles, I did not intend to read the entire book. Instead, I wanted to scan through it quickly and get back to my hectic schedule. That was not to be however, because the moment I read the Introduction, I was tempted to read Chapter One, then Chapter Two, then Chapter Three, etc. This was so because the flow of ideas in the book is so vivid, fascinating and inspiring that one is compelled to read it through to the very end. But it is not just how well written it is or the use of creative literary techniques in it that makes the book so captivating. Indeed Trifles is unique for a number of reasons.
First, the intimate interactions between the two families – one white and another black — beautifully and realistically portray the true values of modern Canada as a multicultural society. In this vein, the level of mutual trust, wisdom and authentic display of both faltering and resilient human attributes represented by the two families, with such a polarity of racial and cultural backgrounds, find striking similarities in a reader’s daily experience and human dispositions. Furthermore, their common adoration for Mandela, King and Ghandi as well as Kennedy indisputably demonstrates that even though we may look different or follow different creeds, our common human aspirations, and desires for ideal models of perfection, are congruently similar.
Second, the book brings out the Author’s great family values, profound intellect and personal weltanschauung as well as his academic orientation: his deep-seated philosophical thought, scientific knowledge and poetic sentiments. Yet these ideas are written in so ordinary a language that even anyone without any backgrounds in these areas will find the book utterly irresistible.
Lastly, the author’s choice of females as main characters, women that outshine their male counterparts in wisdom and intellect at every single encounter, is one that clearly strikes a chord with a reader. The wealth of intelligence shown by Adut and Angelina, as opposed to that of their elder brothers, Chol and Jimmy, for instance, notwithstanding their ages, is a theme that resonates resoundingly with the contemporary environment in which women are no longer passive recipients of the “goodwill” of their male counterparts. Instead, Trifles appropriately shows women as active participants in the process of shaping the destiny of their societies.
In general, not only is Trifles a good read, in fact those who deeply believe in the significance of decent families will consider Trifles as an immortal family Moral Code.
Reviewed by Santino Mabek Dau. Mr. Dau is a Law student in University of Ottawa
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