October 9, 2015

Alexievich, the Nobel and Chernobyl

Courtesy of nbcnews.com

Svetlana Alexievich (Image courtesy of nbcnews.com)

The Nobel committee did it again, caught me completely off guard.  The award for literature this year went to Svetlana Alexievich, and I was like… who?  Now I hold the Nobel prize for literature in high esteem, not only because it is awarded based on a writer’s oeuvre, but also because I often do like the works of the winning writers.  And the ones I do not know, I eagerly anticipate discovering their work.

So, naturally, I googled Svetlana Alexievich and found a lot of information.  I am not surprised I did not know anything about her since she is a journalist, and writes mainly non-fiction… wait, what?  I know of creative nonfiction and I know of nonfiction endowed with literary style that reads as smoothly as fiction, but a Nobel prize awarded for nonfiction?  This article of The New York Times sheds light on the matter, she’s not the first to win the Nobel for primarily writing nonfiction, but it is indeed rare.   However, her reportage is highly praised:

Ms. Alexievich’s work fits into a longstanding literary tradition of deeply reported narrative nonfiction written with the sweep and the style of a novel.

And of her work, she says:

I don’t just record a dry history of events and facts, I’m writing a history of human feelings.

That she does.  After a quick search I am at The Paris Review reading a harrowing piece of reportage: Voices from Chernobyl.  Well, well, not only do I have an opportunity to read Alexievich’s writing, but I finally get to read about the people involved in the Chernobyl disaster.  I remember ever since I was a kid being curious about this catastrophe and how communist Russia would have dealt with the situation.  What kind of lies did they spur?  How did they spin reality with propaganda?  Were humans expendable yet again?  I finally have my answers… and much more; perhaps a little too much.

In prose that is simple yet elegant, concise yet fluid, Alexievich introduces readers to the horrors that the victims and the officials have told her of concerning their plight.  And as I read accounts of civilians, nurses, soldiers, communist committee members, I had to hold back the tears.  Truly, the human race can be seriously misguided and downright stupid.  Why we still have nuclear energy and weapons after Chernobyl (and Fukushima) is beyond me.  Why a nation as large, technologically advanced and historically rich as Russia, still feels the need to be a bully or warmonger rather than a pacifist nation is beyond me.  Why countries or people feel the need to harm one another is beyond me.  Yes, Alexievich’s topic stirred up much unwanted pessimism, but her style made me read the entire text, something I would not have been able to do with a history book or a dry article.

Samir Rawas Sarayji

October 8, 2015


This cracked me up… I think it’s quite recognisable!



October 7, 2015

Small Press Editors Are the Gatekeepers to Publishing

I loved this little article titled ‘Publishing In Small Journals: The Un-Fairy Tale‘ written by Brianne M. Kohl and published over at our friends The Review Review.  I thought it appropriate to share with writers potentially willing to submit their work to Cecile’s Writers’ Magazine, as we are apparently gatekeepers :-)

Far, far away, maybe in another kingdom but most likely in some suburban home office, the Powerful Editor read and loved this writer’s story.  The editor plucked her from obscurity, whisked her away from her dirty hearth and published her story.  The entire kingdom rejoiced. She was beloved by all.

I am not that writer.

Read this clever article here, and share your thoughts with us.  Or better yet, send in your writing and we just might share it with the world.


September 25, 2015

7th Edition Cecile’s Writers Magazine: From Alzheimer’s to Heavenly Spices

Our seventh edition contains a flash fiction and three short stories.

We begin with Israeli Erez Volk whose flash fiction Father Figure shows the emotional strain of a father with Alzheimer’s, and he manages to do this with a great economy of words.

Irish/Canadian David Morgan O’Conner entertains us with good humour in his story The Bush Shoe, about the infamous incident when an Iraqi threw a shoe at former U.S. president George W. Bush.  It is wonderful to see how there is no limit to the human imagination and a story can crop out of almost anything.

American Mariya Taher‘s story Stung reveals the modern day challenges of ethnically different children growing up in an American suburbia, as she explores the interaction between two friends, and the protagonist’s struggle to find her identity to fit in.

And finally, Canadian Raj Sanghera writes about a mother looking forward to pass on her cultural heritage to her baby in Heavenly Spices.


September 4, 2015

Dear Readers,

Cecile’s Writers Magazine continues to grow and demands more of our time and attention. We are happy with the progress there and are working hard to ensure writers get the maximum attention we can afford to offer them so that their stories are published with us. Stay tuned for new developments and features in the near future.

We will continue to update this blog, but it will not be as frequently as we would like it to be. Thank you for your continued support and interest in both our Magazine and blog.

CW team.

June 23, 2015

Things You Can Do to Books Besides Reading Them

Like most fellow book readers, my read books end up on my bookcase waiting there to be reread again.  Yet there’s always this small pile of books that I don;t plan on rereading, and that no one wants.  I’ve had friends browse through them; I’ve posted them on the Dutch version of Amazon – Marktplaats – but without any luck; I’ve even tried the secondhand bookshop and they didn’t want them.  They did offer their bin to dispose of them, but that was just too big a step to take.   Now they’re waiting in a huge blue bag underneath the bed, for their final destination, whatever that may be.

So what to do with books that are no longer wanted?  I shouldn’t have been surprised, yet I was, when I learned that there’s a whole arsenal of possibilities.

Books as purses for keys and phones

Now this one isn’t for me.  Not because of what it does to the books, but because I’m not a clutch kind of person.  I tend to lose things.  I’m bound to put these things in a most sensible place, but I’ll end up forgetting where that place is.  Nevertheless, if I would need one, I think turning a book into a clutch is rather neat idea.


Book clutch

Book pot evergreens

I love gardens.  I’m not too keen on keeping plants myself, since they don’t often survive my forgetting to water them.  But I do enjoy walking through gardens, and since I don’t have a garden, I currently make do with a roof terrace.  So these book pots are probably better suited for the indoors only, after all, they are still books. For instructions on how to make these see HGTV

Book plant

Book and plants

Other fun alternative things that can be made with books was compiled into a nice video by TopTenz



June 17, 2015

Alternative Bookcases

Wandering around is something I do a lot in cities or gardens, but also on the internet.  I start out by looking for specific information, like a suitable name, and if I like it, I check what kind of associations there are.  I open a new screen and see what kind of hits I get searching on the name.  Before I can help myself, I’m reading myths, etymologies, dictionary entries… until I find myself taking quizzes on words no-one is very likely going to use.

Today, my search had to do with books; so for a change, I hadn’t been redirected to countless unrelated topics.  Although I wasn’t particularly looking for alternative bookcases, some caught my attention and I wanted to share them.

My favourites:

1) Invisible bookcase 1

Designer: Professor Neil Barron

This one can actually be purchased. Continue reading

June 15, 2015

The Innumerable Stories Behind an Infinite Number of Numbers

I know many of us writers are afraid of numbers.  We work and play with words, while numbers are for mathematicians, computer geeks and bankers.  But did you know that numbers can hold entire stories?

Apparently, this is clear in people with Aphasia, a language disorder that is often caused by a brain trauma and affects their ability to read numbers.  Sometimes they also lose the ability to recognise numbers unless they remember a personal story behind it, i.e. there is a contextual relevance.  For example, a man was unable to say the number 505, but he was able to say the number 504 because his first rally car was a Peugeot 504.  This got me thinking to how certain numbers in our lives carry with them certain stories that only we know about.

This video explains it all much better.  True, it’s a bit long, but Dr. Sarah Wiseman from UCL explains it really well, and it’s great for writers to see the story significance of numbers.



%d bloggers like this: