Surfacing / Resurfacing
By Jared Meijer and Kenau Bester
The difference between new and anew is not always obvious. For how do we distinguish the new voice from the old or the returning voice? Is there such a thing as a “new” voice, or is it merely an old voice transformed? In this issue of RevUU, the first of its third volume, we evoke a sense of surfacing and resurfacing of both the familiar and unfamiliar. The pieces published here work with this theme to reshape and create new and existing narratives.
As inferred in the title of our journal, RevUU provides a platform for reviewing literature internal and external to the literary canon. These reviews act as a means to give voice to new and evocative perspectives on both emerging and established texts. Together with our team of innovative writers, we traverse time and space.
With Anna Mangnus’ review of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau we begin our journey by travelling back to 1870 to see the Mayan population of Yucatán rise up against the European-descended ruling class, taking critical aim at modern-day colonial heritage. In the present day, Dick Hogeweij introduces us to Dutch author Raoul de Jong and traces his journey across ethnical and sexual borders. Here, he uncovers great strength in revisioning one’s colonial history. In her piece, which recently won second place in the Utrecht University “One Book One Campus” Creative Contest, Neelam Reddy explores her identity as a brown woman as mirrored in Girl, Woman, Other. She elucidates how novels have the power to draw things to the surface that we already felt were true but lacked the words to express them. Natalie van den Berg transports us to Ireland with her reading of Small Things Like These. She endeavors to show us how latent personal histories inform our readings, while simultaneously we learn how events of the past can gain renewed relevance. In her reading of the same novel, Susi Westerveld is drawn to its somewhat controversial cover, as her review pieces together what has been cut out of history by the silencing glare of the Catholic Church.
Maria Teresa Cattani critically examines the circumstances of the Southwark Archdiocese intervention into Simon James Greens’ visit to the London John Fisher School over the LGBTQI+ content of his novel. In a similar fashion, Poet Laureate Ruth Lasters saw her poem Losgeld (Ransom) rejected by the Antwerp City Council. The poem critiques the stigmatizing character of the school system in Flanders, Laurine Tavernier notes, but the conservative opposition decried how it was more of a political manifesto than it was a tool of unification. Resistant readers abound, as José Dorenbos expects to find validation of her social-media distaste in No One Is Talking About This, but instead ends up interrogating her antagonistic relationship with social media and considers what we can learn from our submersion and resurfacing of the platform.
Aristi Makrygiannaki uses dialogue to move past her own reluctance towards the sci-fi genre during her reading of Klara and the Sun. She illustrates that curiosity and openness may let an unexpected literary work seep through a reluctant surface. Rather than talk, Fleur Pieren listens. Enamored by Douglas Stuart and his Young Mungo, she weaves a literary event and reading experience together into a syntactic melding, showcasing how an author can take hold of us, their voice forever embedded in our hearts. Writing home, Leanne Talavera takes what she reads and hears in Asian-American poetry to foster a dialogue with her mother. She finds with these poets an expression of her own experiences of migration that echo and engage with her mother’s journey as a migrant in this poignant letter, wherein relatively or historically unheard voices are now being heard and finding resonance.
Josephine Monnickendam traces her own reading history through effectual encounters with novels centered on women in Greek mythology, illustrating that these perspectives are finally getting the time and respect they deserve, no longer serving as props in the stories of men. Indeed, if Greek mythological retellings have only just now started to experiment with female-centred narratives, Ryan Dougherty looks at a novel that has no reservations about its centrality of the female experience, in his review of Oh William! he highlights the subdued tale of a story so seemingly mundane it goes unseen, and makes a strong case for why we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to this intimate story. Similarly, working with the notion of being blind, Moe Yonezawa pokes fun at the popular trope of labelling certain men as “written by women,” who might not actually be deserving of that title. She interrogates the blind admiration of a person who very clearly displays a concerning number of red flags.
In Zoë Abrahams review she explores themes of womanhood, loneliness and alienation in Japanese women’s writing. In her reading of Diary of a Void, she examines the confining pressures of Japan’s patriarchal gender norms and brings her reading home by connecting the intimate act of reading to her own experiences of womanhood. Kenau Bester brings us to South Africa as she reads the Booker Prize winning novel The Promise. She questions whether or not this is “a story we’ve heard before” and emphasizes the importance of systematically marginalized voices being represented in literature. Finally, Jared Meijer reads Ill Feelings and finds a missing brother in the crevices of the text. He stages a series of interruptions to find out what it means to be a life-long witness to chronic illness.
It would be remiss for us not to thank the many hardworking individuals that made this issue possible for publication. We thank not only writers of these reviews but the Design team, the Editorial team, the PR team, Managing Director and of course Mia You, the UU faculty advisor of this publication, for her unwavering and steadfast guidance in the making of this issue of RevUU.
And finally, to our readers, we hope that you find your own latent narrative drift to the surface and perhaps begin to write your own story. Thank you for creating, together with us, an innovative space for emerging voices.
On behalf of the RevUU team,
Jared Meijer and Kenau Bester