Exit West: Fantasy and Immigration

‘Exit West’ is a story based in an alternate reality filled with teleportation doors, a fantasy like concept that the story doesn’t focus too heavily on (as to not drown the rest of the story and its meaning). However unlike most other immigration based stories, which typically focus on the journey of immigration and its hardships, ‘Exit West’ doesn’t do that and is more concerned about the struggles and hardships that come after arriving. The doors play into the quick transition by removing the need for a long winded explanation of the travels of the main pair and other immigrants. The concept of magical teleportation doors could be a concept used in an apocalypse, and indirectly makes commentary on the bizarre sentiment of a mass immigration. The book comments on it by creating a reality where no major consequences are caused by the large number of immigrating people, at most there was discourse among the ‘natives’ and the immigrants, there was no war as some people would like to suggest and the doors are even used by people who wouldn’t usually be considered “immigrants” by the western idea of the term.

Exit West‘ is a story of immigrant accented by a fantastical idea and the interesting “romance” between two violently different people and their story of love and suffering.

202 Checkmates: A difference in generations

‘202 Checkmates’ is a story based on relationships, particularly a relationship between father and daughter.

Our narrator is a young girl living with her family who enjoys playing chess, despite losing every time to her father. Chess is mentioned and referenced multiple times throughout the story, and is the key o every conflict among the characters.

One of the side characters massively juxtapositions the father, he is young, his hands are soft, feminine even, and calm. The father works hard for his family, but is impulsive, and thinks that things will work out based on nothing but his own faith. This causes major issues with the Narrator’s mother, especially when he buys a marble chess board for the narrator’s birthday, which we learn they couldn’t actually afford.

This is another difference between the young man who acts as an alternate version of the father, whose relationship with the unknown woman who greets him at the end of each game, seems to be happy or at least alright with his relationship with chess, unlike with the Narrator’s mother and father.

The difference between the father and the young man could be interpreted as a mirror between generations, one who works hard but struggles with reality or concern themselves with the future, and another who doesn’t work in the same tireless way and thinks calmly about the future.

The Power of a Good Reader

Nabokov is partially famous for his discussion of what makes a good reader, and by correlation, what makes a good writer.

Nabokov mentions in his long reasoning that one important aspect of a reader/writer, is the ability to separate the reader’s world from the world the writer creates. But I disagree with this. The best thing about stories is the ability to connect things from your own world to the world the writer creates, whether its understanding the situation a character might be in, to imagining a location to something you’ve seen in your past or everyday life.

That is what makes books so much more imaginative and mentally stimulating than movies, when you read a book every person who reads it has a different image in their mind about a location, or even a character. Not to mention if we followed Nabokov’s example of not inserting ourselves into the story we might not feel the same nervousness, satisfaction or fear that the story presents.