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    [email protected]

    The saiga
    I went to read some of the stories for this coming Friday as a way to relax at the end of the day; was I startled by the first one! The story is very powerful, which I am sure is also a sign of an excellent translation.
    There is so much in just a few pages. I loved how the author captured perfectly the kind of men the “so-called hunters” were, engrossed in the fight only when the opponent is already weak and dying, but otherwise not able to proceed with any logic or strategy, just rushed violence. I found the way in which the saiga and the calf are described very touching, completely straightforward and, for this reason perhaps, so powerful. The story is also engineered very intelligently. The saiga is introduced as very careful (“paid careful attention”). She is then found by a pack of unruled men completely by accident, as if the author were here hinting at the unpredictability of accidents. (“if the person had not lit his cigarette…”)
    But who’s this story really about? Perhaps the only man, the one seating behind the driver, who is silent, has compassion, and thirst for justice? And yet, he seems frozen, thinking of revenge but unable to take action in the moment in which events are happening.

    [email protected]

    “Images from a single day” puzzled me a bit. I liked the way in which the author draws attention to how the same place changes – an imagined beautiful land “the foreigners want to write about” is in fact a hot, difficult (and perhaps confusing?) land for those who are active in it. And yet, the narrating voice is so concerned with how they would be perceived (“what did we look like, then, as we rode along on our horses under such conditions”, and again then, two paragraphs later there is a long description of Sambaa, his swat as well as his horse’s, a description that combines vision as well as taste and smell), as if someone were in fact observing to describe them.
    It seems to me that the writer is writing with an audience in mind, perhaps someone acquainted with the environment central to the story. It is introduced with a simple “we arrived at the milking division”. What is special about it, in Mongolia? I think I miss the referents here to flesh out the narrative that follows.
    I was surprised by how emotional these three men are, given that this is their job. By which I mean that I would expect them to be more accustomed with the fact that sometimes, accidents happen, and that death follows from it. I did not expect cruelty, but I was surprised by the appearance of tears.

    As for “The Shelducks”… written under censorship?!


    Generally this week’s readings felt more a window into the minds of the authors than a window into the wilds of Mongolia. I enjoyed them greatly although felt I missed much. So it is. The same thought was in my mind as said above by [email protected] regarding The Shelducks. I wondered what the author wanted to say while being quite skilled in using this story to say it thoughts without drawing undo attention. The full intent of the story I am sure I don’t know. Historical context is unknown to me but for broad strokes of the historical timeline. For me this is part of the joy of reading this literature. I know I know little but it feels like the scent of food unfamiliar to me. It draws me in. Much more to know and experience.

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