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Review: Doing The Business – The Final Confession of the Senior Kray brother by Colin Fry and Charlie Kray

doing the business

The notoriety of the Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie, is present in their legacy. These were the most infamous London gangsters to emerge during the 1960s. Their older brother, Charlie, used to try and keep his distance from Firm activities, yet he had a lot of insider knowledge of operations. In this confession, he reveals many of the truths behind the Kray twins and in this book, in a relaxed and casual manner, Charlie Kray exposes the realities of the true story. The biography takes us back to the childhood of the Krays and the start of the tale tells of the three brothers and their youthful vitality as boxers in East London’s heart, Bethnal Green. Some of the more interesting tales cover breaking Ronnie out of mental hospitals, the setting up of various base of operations in nightclubs. Also, there is a lot of dealing with celebrities, and of course, how to invest profits, with trips abroad into the heart of Africa, looking for investment opportunities. Liaisons with the American Mafia, once their security strategy and business dominance as entertainment Kingpins in London’s West End had been established. There isn’t a massive amount of revelation with regard to the two major incidents that eventually took down Ronnie and Reggie: the murder of George Cornell in the Blind Beggar pub and the murder of Jack ‘The Hat’ McVie by Reggie in a frenzied knife attack. There’s not su much revealing of criminal activity, but more a general overview of the main movements of the Kray operations. It’s a great tale, full of mystery and it is clear that the Kray legend was born out of some pretty successful true events. I think the book is perhaps a little too brief and a bit scanty in parts and I will have to follow up with further research by covering other works. It was a sad state of affairs that the police continued to pursue Charlie after they had put the twins away until they finally managed to fit him up as a large cocaine trafficker and send him to the jail where he spent out most of his latter years. True adventure, true crime, true life.

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Contemporary Francophone “Afropean” Writers: From Francophonie to the Banlieue – Christopher Hogarth. School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia – Cardiff University MLANG 21.11.18

“Afropean” is a term that has its origins with David Byrne, the Talking Heads front man. It was used to describe a music fusion. Silvia Brancato on “Afro-European Literature” as “New Discursive Category”. This talks of the “Reciprocal embeddedness” of Africa and Europe. “Afropean narratives reveal a Europe which has always been transcultural.” (2011) Francophone Cameroonian novelist Léonora Miano, Afropean Soul. Multiple Belongings vs Republican Frenchness. Popularity of spaces of multiple belonging, especially in African context. Artificial nature of European-created nation-states in Africa (imagined in Berlin in 1884) and the history of inter-ethnicity there. Nature of contemporary European Union with the movement and employment opportunities. In France the notion of multiple or hyphenated identities is rarely discussed. In France there is no social vocabulary to designate descendants of postcolonial immigrants. Postcolonial vs Francophonie in academic criticism “Littérature française” shelved separately from “littérature étrangère” “Littérature francophone” now includes Francophone authors from all backgrounds. These backgrounds include authors from postcolonial France and Francophone writers. Limited identification in the public sphere which in turn influences everything from popular media to academic work in France. Some social scientists use ‘issu(e)(s) de la diversité’, but also an umbrella term Looking at texts in Liverpool University Press on Francophone Afropean literatures: Authors were born and spent significant portions of their childhood in Africa. African culture whose education system was heavily influenced by France. Exception: N’Sondé as a post-migratory Afropean. Work focuses on geography of French banlieues. Quite different from cosmopolitan authors such as Mabanckou and Miano. Post-migratory Afropeans. 2nd and 3rd generation authors with postcolonial heritage can be seen as “post-migratory” artists. They have stronger links to France than the African continent. Criticisms include: “Afro descendance” and “Double exclusion”? Post-migratory Afropeans – Borderless and brazen? They do not enjoy the same international acclaim as cosmopolitan figures. eg. Mabonckou’s publicity machine. Popularisation of post-migratory Afropeans – they publish with smaller, specialist publishing houses. There is an importance of transmediality – Slam poetry, rap, CD ROMs, CDs. They have prefaces written by more famous scholars and stars eg. Lilian Thuram. Reading as a duty towards “social justice”. Representations of mobility across Afropean texts. Most works are stuck in Europe, in cities, in suburbs, with little chance of escape. There is a wide variety of ethnicities and experiences. Focus on marginalisation, economic problems, violence, struggle to escape through sport and education. Emphasis on lack of mobility to which some…

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Review: Fiesta en la Madriguera – by Juan Pablo Villalobos

This is a narconovela, a Spanish language work of fiction set in the narco world of drug trafficking. The young Mexican author, Juan Pablo Villalobos presents ‘ Party in the Rabbit Burrow’, a short, fast-moving look at life behind the palace facade of a Mexican drug kingpin, Yolcaut, through the eyes of his young son. Tochtli is shut up in this rabbit warren, living a deluded life of extreme wealth. He only knows fifteen people through his contact with the outside world. He has private tuition at home, where he learns a few relevant facts about the real world. Tochtli is fascinated by sombreros and is proud of his worldwide hat collection. He is fond of the French people due to their penchant for the guillotine. The Liberian dwarf hippos they have obtained from Africa for the palace’s private zoo demonstrate the levels of extreme wealth that Yolcaut has. The violence of his father’s lifestyle and the Mexican drug war reflects upon Tochtli in his craving for Japanese Samurais and obsession with death. He has witnessed some killings at his home and when he guns down some exotic lovebirds it is no surprise. Tochtli exhibits his anger and loneliness through electing muteness, his way of rebelling against the system that he knows. The book is narrated by Tochtli in a childlike flow with plenty of rhythm and decent use of Spanish language meter. There is a lot of repetition of ideas and key phrases and words that enhance the literary beauty of this narconovela. Chapter 1 focuses on an introduction to Tochtli’s world. Chapter 2 is about their trip to Monrovia., the capital of Liberia, in order to hunt down some dwarf hippopotamuses. Chapter 3 returns to the palace. They are betrayed by Tochtli’s tutor, inside details of the King’s life revealed to the media, irritating the kingpin and provoking his mortal anger. There is a clever use of character’s names – the Liberian guides being former US presidents (JFK) and social heroes (Martin Luther King). The hippos are Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. We see the nastiness of Mexican’s über violent social conflict, in a bizarre and extreme mirror, that is never far from violence but has the safety and protection of a secluded fairytale princess life of the ‘Rey’s child. A very good start to me for authentic narconovela subgenre fiction.

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Review: Fiesta en la Madriguera – by Juan Pablo Villalobos

fiesta en la madriguera

This is a narconovela, a Spanish language work of fiction set in the narco world of drug trafficking. The young Mexican author, Juan Pablo Villalobos presents ‘ Party in the Rabbit Burrow’, a short, fast-moving look at life behind the palace facade of a Mexican drug kingpin, Yolcaut, through the eyes of his young son. Tochtli is shut up in this rabbit warren, living a deluded life of extreme wealth. He only knows fifteen people through his contact with the outside world. He has private tuition at home, where he learns a few relevant facts about the real world. Tochtli is fascinated by sombreros and is proud of his worldwide hat collection. He is fond of the French people due to their penchant for the guillotine. The Liberian dwarf hippos they have obtained from Africa for the palace’s private zoo demonstrate the levels of extreme wealth that Yolcaut has. The violence of his father’s lifestyle and the Mexican drug war reflects upon Tochtli in his craving for Japanese Samurais and obsession with death. He has witnessed some killings at his home and when he guns down some exotic lovebirds it is no surprise. Tochtli exhibits his anger and loneliness through electing muteness, his way of rebelling against the system that he knows. The book is narrated by Tochtli in a childlike flow with plenty of rhythm and decent use of Spanish language meter. There is a lot of repetition of ideas and key phrases and words that enhance the literary beauty of this narconovela. Chapter 1 focuses on an introduction to Tochtli’s world. Chapter 2 is about their trip to Monrovia., the capital of Liberia, in order to hunt down some dwarf hippopotamuses. Chapter 3 returns to the palace. They are betrayed by Tochtli’s tutor, inside details of the King’s life revealed to the media, irritating the kingpin and provoking his mortal anger. There is a clever use of character’s names – the Liberian guides being former US presidents (JFK) and social heroes (Martin Luther King). The hippos are Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. We see the nastiness of Mexican’s über violent social conflict, in a bizarre and extreme mirror, that is never far from violence but has the safety and protection of a secluded fairytale princess life of the ‘Rey’s child. A very good start to me for authentic narconovela subgenre fiction.

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Review: Kanaval – Vodou, Politics and Revolution on the Streets of Haïti – by Leah Gordon

Leah Gordon is a former punk artist from London. She is also a photographer and this book reflects upon her experiences of Kanaval on the streets of Jacmel in Haïti between 1995 and 2010. Haïti was the first black republic in the Western hemisphere, a black slave nation that overthrew the yolk of its French European masters. A core component of the revolution’s power was the African-inspired Vodou belief system and intertwined with politics the Kanaval (Creolisation of Carnival) traces its routes to the clandestine slave gatherings in the upland forests of the island. Gordon takes powerful black and white images of the key Kanaval characters and interviews these characters, capturing a series of oral histories from the poor local inhabitants who invest their energy effortlessly, creating characters, making costumes, designing props, organising dance routines and applying makeup, to create this pre-Lentern annual orgy of street theatre and fiesta. We meet the Lanse Kòd (The Rope Throwers), Jwif Eran (Wandering Jew), Papa Sida (Father of AIDS), Oungan (Vodou Priest), St Michel and also the Satanic Zel Maturin (The Wings of Maturin). These characters act out a fight of good versus evil, they challenge the audiences to raise small amounts of money and to reflect upon the political realities of Haïtian life. There is a series of critical essays throughout the book from key researchers of Haïti, that reflect upon the essence of Leah Gordon’s work. The book is enlightening and the images, that can be very disturbing, project an exoticism and spirituality that gives the reader a true taste of the Kanaval performers’ messages and allows the reader a glimpse of the post-colonial ‘Other’ that is the Caribbean.

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Review: Kanaval – Vodou, Politics and Revolution on the Streets of Haïti – by Leah Gordon

kanaval

Leah Gordon is a former punk artist from London. She is also a photographer and this book reflects upon her experiences of Kanaval on the streets of Jacmel in Haïti between 1995 and 2010. Haïti was the first black republic in the Western hemisphere, a black slave nation that overthrew the yolk of its French European masters. A core component of the revolution’s power was the African-inspired Vodou belief system and intertwined with politics the Kanaval (Creolisation of Carnival) traces its routes to the clandestine slave gatherings in the upland forests of the island. Gordon takes powerful black and white images of the key Kanaval characters and interviews these characters, capturing a series of oral histories from the poor local inhabitants who invest their energy effortlessly, creating characters, making costumes, designing props, organising dance routines and applying makeup, to create this pre-Lentern annual orgy of street theatre and fiesta. We meet the Lanse Kòd (The Rope Throwers), Jwif Eran (Wandering Jew), Papa Sida (Father of AIDS), Oungan (Vodou Priest), St Michel and also the Satanic Zel Maturin (The Wings of Maturin). These characters act out a fight of good versus evil, they challenge the audiences to raise small amounts of money and to reflect upon the political realities of Haïtian life. There is a series of critical essays throughout the book from key researchers of Haïti, that reflect upon the essence of Leah Gordon’s work. The book is enlightening and the images, that can be very disturbing, project an exoticism and spirituality that gives the reader a true taste of the Kanaval performers’ messages and allows the reader a glimpse of the post-colonial ‘Other’ that is the Caribbean.

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