His Crime, my Punishment! (‘A Roskolnikov Complex’, or just mine?!)

May 9, 2008 at 12:57 pm 25 comments

I have a writer friend (we will call him “E.”). He is a teacher by trade, chews chaat for a living and fancies himself pretty extra-ordinary. Dostoyevsky seems to agree with him! YESSS.. finally finished reading “Crime and Punishment”!! Some trip, that book!. Haven’t made up my mind which to call Dostoyevsky: a ‘genius’ or an ‘old maid in britches’ (as Scarlett O’hara would say). The plot (story line) of C&P certainly sucks. And there seem to exist neither consistency to, nor anything real about, most of his characters (unless we were to take the ‘dergue gize’ formula of “poor people good” & “well-to-do folks bad” to heart and, giving it a Russian Orthodox Christian twist, assume ‘religious fanaticism was the way to salvation’ and try to work from there!).

I know I shouldn’t judge an old book by today’s mind. I do!! But.. I mean.. c’mon ppl! This guy was 40+ years old when he wrote it and should have known nothing in life gets fixed by the wave of the hand! And WHY, I ask you, talk about all those gross social problems & injustice [in such a horrifying way, too] if you were planning to have some random guy show up at the nick of time with bundles of money and, for no apparent reason, fix them?! Why keep Roskolnikov’s good deeds a secret until such time they would come handy in the court room? Most importantly, why would we even want to read a book of 400+ pages about the sufferings of a character we would feel like shaking like a rat and scream to get his shit together after page 24?!

And .. O .. the inconsistency! The inconsistency makes you physically sick! It’s as if he made everything up as he goes and didn’t even look back to realize how some of the characters react in ways that aren’t faithful to what is told about them before or “would” hereafter. And not from any tendency to show how shifty our temperaments can be, thankuverymuch!!

However, and here may lie the trick, the way he captures feelings [irritating though the feelings may most of the time be – Roskolnikov certainly hasn’t won my vote for “favorite fictional character of all times”] is p.r.e.t.t.y d.a.m.n good! It has a downside to it too, though, unfortunately! It’s what made taking up the book so dreadful for six years. The intensity of those feelings [!] and one’s need to take a breath and un-jinx self, for sanity’s sake. Like some drug that makes you wretch and spasm all over the place until you finally find a way to control it (what did it for me was the realization ‘translation problem’ won’t be able to save half the embarrassing moments in the book as a pair of good working scissors might have).

So how did my dear friend “E.” manage to make it into the “extra-ordinary folks” category of ‘Crime & Punishment’?! Well, he weighs under 100 pounds to begin with! (‘annd’ atilum?!) Has a grizzly beard he never shaves. And wears the type of clothes that made finding work difficult for him for almost 2 years (after quitting, against my strong advice, “be’rr zegto leMetsaf”; which, mostly, turned out to be money requests to his various female cousins working their youth away in various Arab countries)! Also, and this is more important, he neither attends classes (always scoring ‘C’, although he makes sure everyone knows he can do better if he wants), nor takes anything seriously (has a “philosophical” way of looking at every major event in the Ethiopian’s life in a way that faintly reminds you of Eskinder -from “Sememen”, Hailemariam – from KeAdmas Bashager, Adefris – from “Adefris” and all those fictional “Extra-Ors”!).

Infact, the only thing in life “E.” takes seriously is the ‘gize masalefia’ I mentioned earlier whose expenses are covered either out of his mother’s ‘yeTureta genzeb’ or the school fee his one good brother sends him from abroad 3 times a year. Yep! He is your typical Ethiopian ‘yeTibeb sew’ who always manages to make you think that there was [should be! Must!!] more to him than meets the eye. Inspite of, that is, how good or bad a writer, se’aali and/or teacher he may be!

Alas!! I’m not criticizing my friend! How can I when I love him so!? More importantly, when he loves me so! (Not only am I the only female he can talk about books to but am neither disillusioned nor intimidated by the sad wannabee mask he is addicted to wearing. Which, I’ve seen often, makes a man want to either break a girl or try to gain her respect). Yes! Definitely not his fault (although, perhaps, be-friending me may have been! Never trust a blogger, that’s all I’m saying! Unless you like reading about your psyche under abbreviated names on regular basis :-)).

As I was saying, I do not blame my friend. Nor Dostoyevsky, for that matter!. How dare I?! The mere observation that Sebhat Gebregziabher was an old faggot on whom books [that would have been put to better use by a less horny ole man] were wasted has gotten me into enough trouble with my writer friends already. [And.. if you must know, dear reader, I do not think “Giracha Qachiloch” is worth the paper it’s printed on! Do not believe Bewketu Seyoum should give another novella a try – he’s a whiz at short stories but when it comes to longer ones not so much!! – and think EndaleGeta Kebede is the stupidest man alive to hold a pen! I’ve gone so far as saying if EndaleGeta lived at the time of Menelik the 2nd, and his majesty was into fictions, diffretu bicha “arba jirraff” yasgerifew neber! And Dostoyevsky, as we all know, is simply somebody you wouldn’t dare question the talent of if you want your opinions valued – in the Ethiopian literary circles atleast! A circle, I can’t help but notice, that seems to be filled with E.’s type of people who consider it an outrage & take it as a personal insult when a girl who is neither starving, nor have tiny dreads, nor smells of anything in particular pretends to know a thing [or two] about literature.

I’m sick of it, I tell you, Sick of it! [Which is why I’ve started dieting during my absence and plan to ask what Bizuwork (my ‘shuruba seri’ of late) could do with the kinky wool on my head :-)].

For all of you who haven’t had the priviledge (or misfortune) of reading ‘Crime and Punishment’, herebelow is the writer’s definition of “Ordinary” and “Extra-ordinary” people taken from KIOSEK.com. See which category you are likely to belong to ;-). And.. Good luck! 🙂

“As for my division of people into ordinary and extraordinary, I acknowledge that it’s somewhat arbitrary, but I don’t insist upon exact numbers. I only believe in my leading idea that men are in general divided by a law of nature into two categories, inferior (ordinary), that is, so to say, material that serves only to reproduce its kind, and men who have the gift or the talent to utter a new word. There are, of course, innumerable sub-divisions, but the distinguishing features of both categories are fairly well marked. The first category, generally speaking, are men conservative in temperament and law-abiding; they live under control and love to be controlled. To my thinking it is their duty to be controlled, because that’s their vocation, and there is nothing humiliating in it for them. The second category all transgress the law; they are destroyers or disposed to destruction according to their capacities. The crimes of these men are of course relative and varied; for the most part they seek in very varied ways the destruction of the present for the sake of the better. But if such a one is forced for the sake of his idea to step over a corpse or wade through blood, he can, I maintain, find within himself, in his conscience, a sanction for wading through blood- that depends on the idea and its dimensions, note that. It’s only in that sense I speak of their right to crime in my article (you remember it began with the legal question). There’s no need for such anxiety, however; the masses will scarcely ever admit this right, they punish them or hang them (more or less), and in doing so fulfil quite justly their conservative vocation. But the same masses set these criminals on a pedestal in the next generation and worship them (more or less). The first category is always the man of the present, the second the man of the future. The first preserve the world and people it, the second move the world and lead it to its goal. Each class has an equal right to exist. In fact, all have equal rights with me- and vive la guerre eternelle-till the New Jerusalem, of course!”

“DeFFar!!” ale yagere sew! (Yes, your honor, I am talking about myself!!).


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Man, interrupted! What’s Goin On?

25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sistu  |  May 16, 2008 at 9:04 am

    I am glad that you brought up that minaminte writer who has been a headache of mine for years now for the simple reason that i am not able to read his books.

    In my defense, i read the silk mawcha back in the days, before “can sing the phone book and still sound good” had become a popular compliment and sparked the idea that the phone book was there for the reading. Before you rush to give me a whole lot of yelib-lib on my gubzina, let me just warn you that it was the whole 25 or so pages of the phone book i am talking about. Ita kiflachew hono all books that shared my household, be them tekamee or e-tekamee, suffered from one akale-sinkulina or another in that they existed as tatters and gintiltays. so this tele book ginitay that i read then and present to you today as a testimony to my reading chilota is one that had no stated purpose other than serving as a “wereket masdegefia” for the general masses in the house who were in the know abt how to write (which automatically excludes the Mr and Mrs of the house… so imagine my surprise when i find my father’s name iskenayatu in the phone book; anbibut beebalu min leelu yihon?) But back to the books of the house… Usually the only dil-diy between point A in the story on page 32 and point B on page 44 is your imagination. Sample? How, in “mushiraw”, the shocked fikru is being led blindly by yesefer lij circa page 28 to where he is locking hands with hulageresh on what is labeled as page 32 by the ketafee publisher but is actually the next page to you. “chEkolata, ho, chEkolata” alu lijageredochu. “yemata yemata” ale fikru belibu leelew yeneberewin dinget chok bilo. To this day, i do not know what transpired between the pages of dinigatey and mushiranet. The list of tattered books goes on: talalak yetarik sewoch (where, you have to admit, you can’t afford to miss a page of if you wish to truly comprehend their talakinet), talalak yefikir tarikoch etc. But my greatest heartache in the books department? SABELA, O-sabela. O-Jerusalem.

    “bebabeelon wenzoch ategeb, bezia tekemten salen,
    Tsion tiz balechin gizey alekesin….
    Iyerusalem hoy biresash kegn ije tikdagn;
    Salastawisish biker
    iyerusalemin yedestaye kuncho baladerg,
    milase ketinage ga titabek

    By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
    If I forget you, O-Jerusalem,
    may my right hand forget its skill.
    May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
    if I do not remember you,
    if I do not consider Jerusalem
    my highest joy.

    this is not me participating in the keSafee topic of religion over in the other post (tikesefeeyatalesh adame, btw), but Sabela was my Jerusalem. my sister read the book to me when i was around the 1st grade and i later took it up myself, treasuring it thru bega and kiremt, zinab and tsehay. Only downside: we only owned the first 100 pages or so. You can never truly appreciate a book until you have only read half of it for years and years and accepted that one half as the whole book. I prayed, i begged, i searched, i imagined, i DREAMT many dreams [about the ending…i really did] just to get the remaining chunk of the story. That desire to find out what happens to ineArchibald (ahun istee min agebagn) made me the subject of the most extensive and longest-lasting blackmailing operation that a child ever endured at the hands of her “aCheraresun-akalehu” bay sister, the same sister who introduced me to it. I would receive alternate endings day after day after day depending on how i behave for the day. and each one i accept the ending of the day as being the final truth abt the book’s ending. Given these years of sekeken at the hands of this yaltekwache tareek, you would think i would learn a lesson. not me.

    Once again, i fell for the same sister who came in professing tales of Dostoevsky that had been convincingly relayed to her by a co-worker. “its not ‘thirty-fifth street and fifth avenue’ stories us ethiopians should be reading about” ale alu this co-worker. “its Dostoevsky” added he in his infinite wisdom. “eshi” said i in my very finite wisdom. And from that day on, i had been earnestly mengelatating from one Dostoevsky book to another, trying to finish a single book by this yeteregeme man (be reminded: books that i had at my disposal in their entirety…kePage a iske z). For nearly 7 years now, i have been trying to finish one Dostoevsky book or another. Why? because he is the ultimate authority on poverty and i thought if there is one thing i should feel obligated to read, it would be words written in honor of poverty. but now after years of torture, i have arrived at this final concusion: Yetabatu ihe leba.

    This could very well be my yaltegeru (or yaltegere*u) arrogance and ignorance talking, but i have now arrived at the meTsnagna that Dostoevsky doesn’t own poverty; I own poverty. Maybe back in his day, he did… probably being a chisegna or something. So let him get his dues. But this is the 21st century and igna’na igna Ethiopians own chigirina ikekin. If anyone has a right to make a case for poverty, it should be us. Ina, why should we be tortured trying to read case studies in poverty from another century and from another location when we have the practical demonstrations afinchachin sir. Sure it would be nice if somebody was to write about these realities in the same way D wrote about his surroundings and saved it for the yeDelebu Russian citizens of today to gloat over. Maybe the only reason we are poor today is so that we can, in 200 yrs, become famous for our writers from today. Yebete mekatel letihuanu bejegn kinda thought, if you like. (what does D know about tihuan, lemisale. and notice how i am trying to make ground in the teretina misale dep’t?) But until Amakelu or Demelash decide to write the next Crime and Punishment begging to be written today in Ethiopia, I am done being tortured by The Devils from Russia.

    mts. I don’t mean it. I have to finish the Brothers Karamazov at least.

  • 2. abesheet  |  May 16, 2008 at 9:37 am

    The story of “Emebet Sabbela Mary Vien”!

    The only book i bought more than three times (and still don’t own) next to “FiQir Eskemeqabir” (have anybody read the english version, by the way? Anybody?!) and “Emiyu”! I was not only a huge fan but only befriended those who worshipped at it’s alter in my early & late teens (as I did with Amadeus, the movie, and “The Thorn Birds”, the book, which i turned into my 20’s hating, strangely enough. Am still in love with “Amadeus” though. Awesome). And the translation! What a translator HaileSelassie-whatever was. Would have taken off my hat for him and bared my melAta rass right here right now (except i neither have a hat nor a melata rass). Awesome book! Awesome!! Thank you so much, sistuye, for bringing it up. Would comment on the rest of your comment on Monday. I have only 1 one more minute to lunch and we have a lousy meeting all dayafternoon.

    Happy TGIF and nice weekend y’all!

  • 3. sistu  |  May 18, 2008 at 4:04 am

    Abesh (not to be confused with the food abish, which by the way, is very good for feet-tirat… unless i have it confused with another tira-tire),

    What is TGIF? Your “Happy TGIF” has left me very uneasy with the thought that i might be depriving myself of a celebration that i should have been undertaking. Leminal-batu gin, i will eat well today just in case there is a festivity of some sort out there. And while i am at it, what is SOS (i think it was)? i saw it on your other post… it sounds like something to do with texting?

    No need for words, i think people who read sabela have a legitimate claim to an emotional connection amongst each other that is hard to explain. and Ok, i will wait till monday to take up the discussion. But let me use your absence to confess that i am not a huge fan of Fikir iske mekabir. yikir belugn zemedoche.
    The english version of which book, btw? Fikir iske mekabir? i heard there is one book out there resembling it, iwnet new? or sabela?… i tried to (sabela), bizum altewatelignim… it is just not the same.

  • 4. abesheet  |  May 30, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Forgive me for over-looking this comment sistu. Lol. I hope you aren’t poking fun at me (poke-fun, now that’s one of those english expressions i find hard to understand; just like i find the name “terepeza” difficult to associate with the four legged thingy i have standing in the middle of my room). For I have a feeling u know more about these abbreviations more than me. However, “yewahaan yeGziabher mengistin yiwersalu” silale mitsehafu (the black one, not the one i was talking about earlier), I’ll explain. The title for my post, originally was “· · · — — — · · ·” (that’s morse code for SOS=save our souls etcetra). But then i thought it might give the wrong meaning to those who are or aren’t familiar with Morse code (i only know the name sounds german) so changed it to “help”!.

    I may have gotton “Happy TGIF” wrong. It might as well been just “TGIF” period. Thank God it’s friday :).

    I am a HUGE fan of FMEskemeQabir, btw. And the more i read it, the more i like it. Almost in equal dereja with “Adefris”, which i started reading because somebody said they didn’t understand it (gUra lemechercher) but fall head-over-heels in love with. Reading an English version of Sabella indeed sounds like a bad idea.

    So.. anywho.. should i expect to hear from the girls about this hush hush thing that’s been keeping you busy, or should i bombard yordi’s facebook profile with questions?!

    Give em my love!

  • 5. Winta  |  May 30, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Or another simpler explanation that would have let you explore more would have been to have the slightest doubt that may be you just haven´t understood these books.

    What is shocking is also the name calling. Why not criticize the books for the styles or the ideas they have. why are you focusing on the personalities of the writers.

    Do you find a conicidence in the styles on the books you so much down graded (leaving Endale geta out of it)?

    Sorry I haven´t shut up on this topic as I promised. i just find this a little arrogant and had to say sth.

  • 6. Comprar Tadalafil  |  August 4, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Useful blog. good luck.

  • 7. BiilYBonnYU  |  November 12, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Excellent blog! Interesting article and very informative! I will necessarily subscribe for this blog.

  • 8. Inem  |  December 21, 2008 at 12:41 am

    Abesheet, you truly think outside the box. I heard the same thing before from yerasu astesaseb kalew literature student friend of mine. yagerachin higher education and elite circles are teeming with the my way or….literatis .
    I hardly know anything about literature but I am just a reader of the ordinary type and I happen to like Dostoyevsky, a lot in fact. I agree there are inconsistencies in character in his books. But I wonder what other form of narration could best depict characters like Raskolinikov and for that matter your friend “E”. To illustrate my point err question, I took an excerpt from Fasil Yitbarek’s translation of “notes from the underground or yeserechaw meTaTef” “irgum sew neN ikuy, melke Tiffu. GubetE yetaweke yimesleNal” “melkam weym meTfo, weslata weym qin, tiliq sew weym tebay alneberkum. kandu mesfer yetesaneN”. How can this persons tarik or character, or a depiction of a tormented soul struggling insanity be consistent? Please enlighten me.

    By the way Abesheet I recommend Fasils book “the texture of dreams” I also loved Dinaw Mengistu’s “the beautiful things that heaven bears”.

    I think bewketun ewketu kalaTefaw girum metsahift yasnebebenal, Sebhat qedmo tsefo tenagro abqto yihonal , Hadisin atinkubiN, slelelochu yegebachew yeminageruten iyadametku laselasel. May I suggest for Abesheet to write a review of yeagerachin books she thinks worthy to read. Why did you hate giraCha qaChiloch?

    Sistu, I enjoyed reading every bit of your comment. bruh aymeroshen leT biye ij iyenesahu leyeteNaw wuqabi wedaja lider or foundation limatsen for you to write “yemel’akua tibiya”.. MenaTinet a la ethiopiques.

  • 9. abesheet  |  December 22, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Well, Inem. “Sebhat: Hiwotna Kihlot” was the last Amarigna Metsihaf i read (whose take I posted and you read on “Lead or be Led”). I took a look at “YeBedel Bier” or “YeBeQel Bier” when buying it for my friend “E” as a graduation present. However, i got literally sick by the time i got to page 4, so I gave it up. (My friend “E” hated it too, except for the note attached to the book saying “Dear E. I hope to someday see your name on the cover of a book Shama published”). I’ve learned reading Amharic books demanded the kind of strength and courage i do not have (And after Shama’s rejection made me give up on becoming a writer, even my Immigration form read “Proof Reader/Manuscript Editor” for dream job, I doubt i want to if can). However, if word reached my ears a good book is out and about, and if i manage to read and finish it, you would be the first to sit in the audience of my “GimGema” 🙂 .

    Please find herebelow a very [pretentious] [amateur] [sort of] review I wrote on “Giracha Qachiloch” to a friend almost 4 years ago. The first part of the letter is included to make your reading of the comment less painful than my reading of “Giracha Qachiloch” proved to be.

    P.S. I’ve found out that click-ing the image or changing your screen’s Zoom Level to 125% gives a clearer image.

    Page 1
    Page 2
    Page 3
    Page 4
    Page 5


  • 10. Inem  |  December 22, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Amesegnalehu Abesheet,
    This is not a review, but keamaterim amateur yehonewen hasabEn lakafel. I also have noticed the, as you said “etiopiawi yemaymeslut”, characters and descriptions. My thought at the time was:
    -metshafun bedenb alteredahutim, it was a truly slow read
    -what do I know of Ethiopiawi getsebahriyat and how they talk? perhaps these are eccentricities… My observations from the limited travels I did accross the country and the multitude of characters I grew up with in my neighbourhood yetim Teb ayilu yihonal…being ordinary perhaps I am not perceptive
    -did not see mezgebu as mezgebu but the vivid imagiination of the self by the author himself
    -Mnalbat minabin sid melqeq yihon biye TeyqkuN…
    AlgebaNim bizum, but I was very impressed all the same. The intelligence of yaltemarew Mezgebu gira alagabaNim for I have seen it in kegeTer yemimeTu zemdochE and some yearatkilo awdeldayoch one to many times.
    I was indeed mesemerized by Adam Reta’s language and many hoho yemiyaseNu descriptions. He surely knows qalaten asamiro masakat, besides I enjoyed his earlier short stories a lot.
    Yesewyew neCh kot jerba lai yeseferut zinboch siChefeleku eyetayeN duro bekiremt yeseferachinin qulqulet Chiqa adalTen alafi agdamiw dub sil yeminseqewen aynet yetafene saq aynochE eytegureTereTu qi qi qi eyalku bafinChaye tenefeskut. I was inside a bus.

  • 11. abesheet  |  December 23, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Is it possible that I am hard to impress Inem? Or find it difficult to relate (or give excuses for) things that do not appear the way i remember or experienced them.

    If you are wondering why: it’s either because I have seen creating ordinary characters in ordinary situations, without boring your reader, is much harder than creating unique characters and making them the bearer of what you want them to bear. (That’s why, they tell us, the simpler a story appeared to write, the harder it is.) Or.. I lack the feeling of loyalty (“Tihitina” or “Feriha Egziabher”) that “meTleffs” many, making them see or want/strive to see things that may not be there. (That’s why i never demand of people to worship the gods i worship, or take my word for the stuff I believe in; bear with me.. that’s all i ask. If you like it, take it. If not, feel free to chuck it. If you do it politely, I respect you. If you do it otherwise, your feels go unread– don’t know why i brought that up 😉 ).

    Anywho.. I know the above “real woyim Mot” criterea makes me sound like a reader from hell. Over-critical and demanding for the type of “perfection” I obviously can’t master in my fiction and non-fiction writing. But I strongly believe if you know your characters well, and are faithful to them, making them feel real and relatable isn’t so difficult. There is no gap sufficient background won’t fill and no emotion that can’t be felt by your reader (whether the characters come from Jupiter or went through the kind of experience your reader didn’t) if you are good at what you do!

    Take Zadie Smith’s “White Teeth” for example. It is my favorite book of all times. But there are so many things I would have liked corrected if i can. I hate the chemical engineering part which felt like (keSemay duB yale neger) and detaste the fact that Immigrants, like Samad and the owner of the Halal Butcher, speak the type of language you know only a native speaker speaks. If there are words/expressions/proverbs you know won’t come naturally for those not born in the culture, a dialogue won’t sound natural and fails to convince however close the accent (I see it in movies mostly, but Zadie suffers from it from time to time). That doesn’t mean there aren’t people like Samad out there. But they are rare cases. If you want to have them, show us they are rare or have a character call them weird.That way their dialogues won’t sound so hard to swallow.

    Where was i? 🙂

  • 12. Inem  |  December 23, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Abesheet are you saying add prefixes like gudu to make the weirdos palatable? indeed you have a point there.
    If you carry on with this level of perfectionism then we may not have a chance to read your novels. You will send a potentially excellent novel to a phoney address in gamogofa with a non-existent return address in agarfa, I don’t know if you read Life of Pi, thats where this comes from (an excellent book by the way). Come on give yourself and others a little break. I guess if you accept the imperfection of our kind once and for all, then it is easy to be humble not even necessary to be loyal or feriha igziabher yaderebet, as you put it. Perhaps it is as sewyew indalew, ine yeqomkubet honeh slalayehat yihonal kind of thing.
    Some writers say that at times/often the characters take the life of their own and they just only mechekchek yaluachewen. is it because they know them really well to tag along in a whim? Not that I know of anything about these things. You are the pro with the knack, you tell me. I have not read Zadie Smith yet, will pick the said book to read during the holidays.

  • 13. abesheet  |  December 23, 2008 at 11:18 am

    I think this question of character’s authentication takes us back to why we find characters more likable and relatable to the people around us. With fictional characters we are told where they have been and what brought them here . So no action is the type of action that makes you say “ende?!” or atleast that you won’t understand the root of with a fictional character. With real people, we gotta figure that out ourselves. Which is made more difficult by the fact that real people (unlike fictional characters) have things to hide from us and would do anything than being figured out.

    All this, ofcourse, won’t mean anything if you and I don’t agree that characters, like people, are the products of their background/experiences/education/etcetera. Which is what every good book tries or should try to make us see.

    [Yetnyet, for example, has never impressed me as being “YeAssela Lij”. It’s true that i don’t know many of them. But I knew all along, have pleaded guilty to and been forgiven (for abesheet is no Adam Retta to whom much is given and much is expected) the fact that why i wanted her to hail from Assela is because I couldn’t figure out another way to have her enjoy her romances and later loneliness without the hassle of having her mother and sister around. Didn’t simply have the time to include them. Still, if you had the opportunity to read the “novel-never-to-be” i submitted to Shamma, nothing would strike you more than the reality of the characters. “I know the girl though”, or “She’s me.. she’s every woman” was the comment I got from those females who read it. That, I think, is the kind of impression you’d wanna produce in your readers and which “Giracha Qachiloch” was a long haul from introducing in the abesheet bosom. If you can’t make your chracters relatable, your book would end with the fate of the music videos one sees on ETV. Where every character in the song, even that “Qechacha” “biguram lij” you and I know grew upon “Shiro/Abish or Telba”, is indiscriminately shot in a “YeAyat Mahber Bet” next to a girl we know won’t go for a guy like him. Like i said earlier, it doesn’t mean our BiGuram boy won’t end up owning YeAyat Mahber Bet or isn’t likely to meet a drop-deal gorgeous who values his “personality”, or is simply desperate. But if you shot him in a decent house next to the kind of girl who is likely to go for him, it would feel more natural and relatable]

    The claim ‘the character takes a life of it’s own’ as well as the statement “this wasn’t how i planned to end it” has to do with the plot, i think. Infact I think it’s when you are trying to remain faithful to how your character would respond in a given situation that you lose control over them and they end up doing things you didn’t plan for them to do.

  • 14. sistu  |  December 23, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Zadien kanesashat zenda —

    most of my opinions on her you have heard already anyways. i might wait for Inem to read it before adding too much more but — . while it pains me greatly to find any fault with her books (despite being always willing to disparage the second two), she does let down in exactly the way you described. for eg both my most and least favorite part of WT is the ‘maybe, Samad Miah, maybe not’ lines that Alsana delivered for years between Magid’s going and coming (i’m trying to be vague) without true repercussions from Samad. thought Zadie missed the isat-yileblibish side of any bal whose roots are in a developing country; don’t know why she thought she can get away with the idea of letting Samad put up with that answer. so i agree that there are places where her ferenj side shines through in her characters and i have to be reminded that she, perfect as she is… so very perfect as she is, is not perfect.

    Lol, i have become a serial commenter on youtube about the incompatibility of the singer guy and the featured fikiregna girl in our music vids. (comments that invariably get adorned with ye thumbs-down me’at from other viewers, tifate baygebagnim).

    about Yeti (would she respond to my kulmicha with ‘yet takignalesh’?), may we discuss her? ok, thanks Abiti (;)..smiley face aslemedshign). she didn’t strike me as yeAssela lij either. to me her psychological silitane was much too rapid. struck me more as those of yaddis abeba lijoch from whom i would expect her kind of yewist complexity that manifests in daily anuanuar. am I misunderstanding her? am i being borderline disrespectful by expecting some simplicity because of her Assela roots? and curious abt why Assela vs. debrezeit/nazreth etc? (far enough not to visit too often and close enough to babysit sometimes, as Raymond Barone would say). just wondering…

  • 15. abesheet  |  December 24, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Exactly my point, Sistu 😉 “why Assela in particular”. My guess is, I wanted Yeti to be Amarigna sitnaGer yadegech lij but not amhara so she knows what it’s like to have kids laugh at you for your father’s name when young. Trying to give another reason, i guess, for seeing the world a little differently. Just a hunch 🙂

  • 16. melkam  |  November 29, 2009 at 8:05 am

    “DEFAR” is not the right word to call u… the word is “EBID!” . U try to evaluate classic works by the “rules” of popular litrature. U use ur empty jargons to make ppl believe u got a point, infact what u are trying to do is trying to look like intelligent by attacking respected authors.

    Roskolnikov is the most thoroghly portrayed character I have ever read. He has been portrayed in the subconcious level to made me c what the criminals mind. Infact he has been the basis of the latter Freudian psychoanlysis. That is Dostoyevsky’s power to express the minds of his charachter’s beyond their obvious “realistic or natural” “personalities” into their subconcious thoughts like anyone before him never did.

    That’s why I was not surprised at ur insult of GIRACHA KACHILOCH(which ,by the way, share Dostoyevsk’s qualities) and ur “amateur criticism” before u even completed reading the book.

  • 17. abesheet  |  November 30, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    You have pretty much nailed me sir! [By calling me names I’ve called myself, on this very blog, atleast half a dozen times already]. Still. The only beef i have with your comment is your seeming inability to digest the above mentioned writers [and psychologist] may not be the perfect specimens of the scribbling [doctoring] world by any generations’ standard. Dare I suggest that makes you sound like a typical member of the group [of blind worshippers] my friend “E” belongs to would?! [And I, an atypical bystander]?! Or would that be too presumptuous of my [usually] presumptuous self?!

  • 18. melkam  |  December 2, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Hey honey,
    For ur info. I am neither a writter nor belong to any group , neither do I have any writter friends/groups.(I am an Engineer for ur info.) But I don’t care to which group u made me belong. I don’t believe “thinking outside the box” is always opposing to the usual “public” stands neither is it conforming to the usual stands.

    My principle is evaluating any idea/concept by reason and reason alone. By trying to be “atypical” u are already in the follower of the “typical” coz u don’t have ur own stand but the negation of the “typicals” u condemn.

    I adore dostoyevsky in the ground that he has shown the deepest soul of mankind like any author I have ever read did(and I couldn’t sleep till I finished Crime and Punishment). I respect Adam and Giracha Kachiloch by the same reason he has transcend beyond the usual expression of the “natural” or the “realistic” into the basic traits of mankid’s identity. I don’t care if all the 6billion people agree with me …. I don’t try to be ATYPICAL… i try to be REASONABLE!

  • 19. abesheet  |  December 2, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Fair enough! And you are right. I can be counted upon to not see eye to eye with “the usual public standards”, as you called it, on any given situation/material calling for one. In that, atleast, I’m pretty predictable. But I do give plausible reasons for my teQawmos, don’t I? I think i do. And like i always say, as long as he/she is doing it respectfully, the reader has the right to object [the teQawmo or the reason behind the teQawmo – intellectual/psychological or psychotic]. And have his/her objection read.

    (Not saying you haven’t been respectful, mind you. “Ebd” is a term that has helped convince me I was a better “individual” than I really was since grade 7, at Yeka Misrak Chora 1gna ena 2gna Dereja Timhirt Bet (formerly “Bitweded”), where I wrote that “achir gimgema” for one of the “bessa-libwoleds” our teacher used to read us every Hamuus [yeQen-Qidus] begging mercy for an Antagonist my classmates deemed as deserving death by lethal injection— or its Ethiopian equivalent).

    Feel free to read more, and reason more.

  • 20. melkam  |  December 5, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Here I am back,

    Though it has been a long time since I read it I want to share with u what Adam “tries to tell us”(As u have inquired via the letter u wrote to ur friend)

    I think the major theme of Giracha Kachiloch is FREEDOM. Mezgebu was a troubled child who is haunted by the death of his Mother, by neglect from his family, society and God. To ease this trouble and neglect he has attached himself with the SUN, his “GUBITA”, with the STREET POST LIGHT……

    Through the progress of the book he has figured out he is ultimatelly FREE and no one (whether God, Family or society) can cause him any pain unless he let him. And I think the book is about the STRUGGLE OF AN INDIVIDUAL for the ultimate realization of HIS INNATE FREEDOM.

    What do u think?

  • 21. abesheet  |  December 5, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Hmm.. interesting. I wish I could say I regret not having finished it. But that would be untrue. Seeing how I died dozens of deaths just to make it through page 1-24. [Like i said repeatedly, nobody questioned Adam’s talent. Atleast not this nobody. What I hated about the book, and what made reading it so loathsome, is the fact that Mezgebu wasn’t a character you’d call “true to himself”. And his surrounding. And you don’t have to read the whole book to know that. A line is enough to completely “menaD” the person the writer has been building for hundreds of pages and throw you for a loop. By….. simply not sounding real. By making you pause, purse the lips and say “eh?” irritably. People act in a way you don’t expect them all the time. They rarely speak.]

    But…….. I’m glad you finished it. And thank you for the low-down.

  • 22. Melkam  |  March 9, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Me again!

    I just think u may want to read a comment to ur Giracha Kachiloch criticism via this link and u are more than welcome to participate in the discussions around Adam Retas works.


  • 23. mezgebu  |  March 26, 2010 at 8:55 am

    It is not fair for abesheet/abeshaw to puke such assault on a book he/she did not really read. You read 24 pages from nearly a 500 pages book and jump to throw mud?

    Absheet starts with ignorance. Or assumed ignorance. In critical philosophy this is called deception. With a big D. From the outset, abesheet claims not to have read the whole book, and yet throws tantrums here and there as if Adam committed a crime. Why is abesheet/abeshaw so excessively negative and rude towards Adam and gracha Qachiloch?

    Abesheet takes up words and tries to ridicule them. E.g. yemichoh qelem. This is called synaestesia, if I am not wrong. You try to paint Adam’s beautiful language as darkly as you can, as if it was bad to be elegant. You continuously miss that this is literature. Missing a major issue, you want to be a critic. What do you want?

    One other argument that abesheet flaunts as if she is a master of literary criticism is, the accusation that the book was unethiopian. Really? One of absheet’s mock lines is to question him or us whether tinchels exist in Gonder? I do not know whether nefas mewcha is in Gonder. I do not care. Unless abesheet confuse Deqemehari with Gonder, yes there are Tinchels everywhere in Ethiopia. Not every Habesha but every Ethiopian knows that.
    One of your other arguments is, mezgegbu is not true to himself. Would you please present the proof of that? I know kids who are like mezgegbu. What is your experience? With retards? Or liars?

    Honestly, if I were a publisher, I would have brought gracha to the market for the sake of a single chapter.

    Abesheet and the like are weaned on didactic literature and are used to read about the pseudo-unified individual of the agrarian world and a somewhat burly hate for the Amharic language. It is impossible to teach them otherwise. Like it or not, Adam is out there writing with fun and flair. Check alengana misir and itemete lomishita. As usual, read all of them under your bed, and tell us you only read two pages. Ok baby? I know your type.

    Ciao abeshit

  • 24. selamtesfaye  |  May 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    i read gracha kachiloch 3 times every time getting new impression every page making me pause and reflect
    it’s one of the greatest book i have ever read and and one of the very few books that made me think thru and thru about these complicated sophisticated things called life and love and freedom

  • 25. Yitbarek gebregziabher | Fotolimb  |  July 12, 2012 at 6:49 am

    […] His Crime, my Punishment! (‘A Roskolnikov Complex’, or just mine …May 9, 2008 … The mere observation that Sebhat Gebregziabher was an old faggot on ….. I took an excerpt from Fasil Yitbarek’s translation of “notes from the … […]

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The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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