Anyone following my Short Story Monday posts over recent weeks will know that I have been thoroughly enjoying an exploration of online African short stories, thanks to links provided by the Woyingi Blog. Unfortunately, my appreciation comes to a screeching halt with Ethiopia's Daniachew Worku. However, I suspect Worku is not to blame. "The Voice" (not affiliated with the Christina Aguilera/ Cee-lo Green reality program), is found at "Adefris.Info" a site dedicated to the late Ethiopian playwright, author, and critic. The problem, I suspect, is one of translation. Worku sometimes wrote in English and Amharic, and I suspect the Adefris site author is more comfortable with Amharic. So, between typos and spelling mistakes, run-on sentences and just general awkwardness, "The Voice" reads like a poorly translated story and is difficult to get into. It should be intriguing enough; it's about a young male servant who is loved by some of the older female servants and raped by the others, and always sworn to secrecy-- the result of which leads him to just about lose his voice altogether. He grows into a man, gets married to his mistress's daughter with whom he develops a very unhealthy relationship, and finally he is pushed to talk. The result is not pretty.
I imagine that in the original language (and again, I only assume it was originally written in Amharic), it would be more thought provoking. There seems to be an attempt to make the voice and the soul synonymous, and I wish it was better realized. Perhaps in a better translation it would be.
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