|Wednesday 25th of May 2016
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Roberto Bolano's 2666: Latin America's literary outlaw
2666 is a novel of stupefying ambition with a mock-documentary element
at its core. It is divided into five loosely connected sections, each
of which could stand as a novel in their own right (and indeed Bolaño
expressed a wish, ignored by his executors, for them to be published
separately). We begin in familiar territory, with a tale of four
literary critics from different European countries who are united both
by their promiscuity and their obsession with a cult German novelist
called Benno von Archimboldi. Little is known about Archimboldi other
than that he is very tall, very old and that he disappeared in early
adulthood (although he has continued writing ever since).
Discovering his whereabouts has long been a dream for the critics. At
a conference in Toulouse, a chance meeting throws up evidence that
Archimboldi recently travelled to the Mexican border town of Santa
Teresa. The critics go there in the hope of tracking him down.
Both the next two sections are set in Santa Teresa but the critics
have disappeared from view (this is a novel with many disappearances).
Instead, the focus switches to two other outsiders: a depressive
Spanish literature professor who moved to the town after his wife's
death, and a black American journalist who is there for a few days to
cover a boxing bout. Gradually, the tone darkens and an atmosphere of
menace takes over. Snatches of conversation are overheard in bars and
restaurants - references to "the killings". It emerges that Santa
Teresa is the scene of one of the most horrific crime sprees
The killings in question - the murders of young women - have been
occurring there for several years (the novel is set in the mid to late
90s). Bolaño isn't just relying on his imagination here. Santa Teresa
is a fictionalised version of a real Mexican border town, Ciudad
Juárez, which became notorious during this period for the
extraordinary number of women murdered. For several years, on an
almost weekly basis, the bodies of young women - some as young as 11
or 12 - would turn up in the desert surrounding the town.
The majority were workers in the town's maquiladoras (American-owned
factories). Most had been raped and savagely assaulted. A remarkably
high percentage of the cases were unsolved (often the bodies weren't
even identified). It was never satisfactorily established whether a
single psychopath or a group of copycat murderers were behind the
crimes, although various arrests were made.
In his final years, Bolaño became obsessed by the murders and set
about finding out everything he could about them. He struck up
correspondences with journalists who had covered the cases, bombarding
them with requests for details covering everything from the forensic
aspects of the killings to the politics and geography of Ciudad Juárez
(he never visited the town). And he needed whatever information he
could get, because in the novel's fourth section - its astonishing
centrepiece - he undertakes another of his epic reconstructions. For
nearly 300 pages he takes us through the murders chronologically,
describing in the cold, hard language of the forensic report where
each body was found, what state it was in, what the cause of death was
and so on.
Threaded through the sequence are accounts of the various attempts to
solve the killings, by policemen, private detectives, journalists and,
in one case, a psychic. As the bodies mount up and all the
investigations come to nothing, it becomes clear that what we are
being presented with is a vision of hell, a place where horror is
unending and meaningless. It is hard to think of a grislier sequence
Yet the most startling thing about it is that it is literature. For it
is easy to forget, as Bolaño lays down his litany of carnage, that
none of what he is describing actually happened. Of course, something
nearly identical to it did, in Ciudad Juárez. But Bolaño's town is
Santa Teresa, and the women whose deaths he evokes so chillingly never
actually existed. Critics have talked for years about the blurring of
fiction and reality, but it seems to me that Bolaño, in this sequence,
is doing something genuinely novel. He is deploying a technique of
non-fiction (the forensic report) to describe something imaginary, but
which nonetheless mirrors almost exactly an actual sequence of events.
This is neither fictionalised history (attributing imaginary thoughts
and deeds to real people) nor fictional documentary (as in a film such
as Best in Show). It is something else again - a kind of imaginative
documentation of reality. Here, as in the oral testimony sequence of
The Savage Detectives, it is almost as if Bolaño were attempting to
carve out a new territory - a third space, if you like - between the
real and the make-believe.
2666 is indeed Bolaño's master statement, not just on account of its
length and quality but also because it is the fullest expression of
his two abiding themes: the writing life and violence. Bolaño's
interest in the former is easy to explain - he believed that a life
dedicated to literature was the only one worth living. But his
fascination with violence is more complex. One explanation can be
found in his background. As someone who came of age during the era of
South America's dirty wars, it is understandable that he should side
with the view he attributes to one of the characters in 2666, who sees
history as a "simple whore... a proliferation of instants, brief
interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness".
But Bolaño's interest in violence is also bound up with his conception
of literature. He described writing as a "dangerous calling" and
throughout his life saw it as something fundamentally lawless,
antagonistic to the norms of society. There is a visceral quality to
his prose, and often in his fiction he forges explicit connections
between literature and violence. His novella Distant Star is about a
poet who is a serial killer, and in the final section of 2666, which
returns to Archimboldi, a link emerges between the novelist and the
Santa Teresa killings.
In his last interview, Bolaño declared, in all apparent seriousness,
that what he would most liked to have been was a homicide detective.
By writing 2666 he got to enact his fantasy. And, in the process, he
created as disturbingly original a work of art as you could encounter.
I bought my Little one Hannah some funky Sneakers inn Doha. And I
placed them in the back seat so that when her mother collected her
from school yesterday she would see the sneakers and i said to her
Mother call me when she sees them.
and such is Happiness - listening to your Daughter's reaction and she
is so polite and grateful and I would to pick her up and put her on a
pink cloud and push her around and never stop or maybe visit a Park in
London [like we used to with the Older girls] maybe by the river and
put her on a swing and keep swinging her for hours and she leans back
and maybe laughs. And I wish my Mother was with us.
Donald Trump this week took his use of sordid accusations against Democrat Hillary Clinton to levels unprecedented in modern U.S. presidential campaigns
Law & Politics
Donald Trump this week took his use of sordid accusations against
Democrat Hillary Clinton to levels unprecedented in modern U.S.
presidential campaigns, in the latest example of the Republican's
The presumptive Republican nominee is working to gain stronger footing
and offset a big advantage Clinton is likely to have ahead of the Nov.
8 presidential election - a huge campaign war chest that she and her
allies intend to use to launch a barrage of attacks against him.
Trump is using the same strategy he used repeatedly during the
Republican nomination fight against rivals like Ted Cruz - making
incendiary statements that U.S. television networks can't resist
covering, giving him hours of free media and putting his opponents on
Remains retrieved from EgyptAir wreckage suggest blast on board - Egypt forensics official
The human remains so far retrieved from the wreckage of the crashed
EgyptAir plane suggest that there was an explosion aboard, an Egyptian
forensics official and investigation sources said on Tuesday.
The official based his assessment on the small size of body parts so
far recovered from the site in the Mediterranean sea. Investigators
had not so far found any traces of explosives that would suggest it
was caused by a bomb, the sources said.
“The size of the remains points towards an explosion, the biggest part
was the size of a palm. Some of the remains started arriving on Sunday
in about 23 bags,” the forensics official said.
However, another forensics official said only a tiny number of remains
had arrived so far and it was too early to specify whether there had
been an explosion aboard.
Fitch Cuts Mozambique Rating to CC Over Hidden Public Debt
Fitch Ratings cut Mozambique’s credit to CC, indicating that a default
of some kind is probable, after the southern African nation last month
disclosed more than $1 billion of previously hidden debt.
The grade was cut by one notch from CCC, according to a statement
e-mailed by the company Monday. The review was brought forward by five
months because of a “material change in the creditworthiness of the
issuer,” it said.
“The disclosure of hidden public debt has revealed significant
short-term repayment obligations, which could precipitate a near-term
credit event,” Fitch said.
. Its currency has fallen 14 percent against the dollar this year,
after depreciating 28 percent in 2015.
The yields on Mozambique’s $726 million of bonds due January 2023 rose
six basis points to 16.295 percent on Monday. They closed at a record
high of 17.12 percent on May 19, according to data compiled by
Mozambique’s annual public debt servicing costs are estimated to have
almost doubled to about 4.5 percent of gross domestic product because
of the hidden loans, according to Fitch.
Kenyan Political Risk Low Before 2017's Election, Exotic Says
Kenya’s political risk is “relatively low” before next year’s
elections, with recent protests having little impact on economic
activity, Exotix Partners LLP said.
Demonstrations demanding reforms to the country’s electoral authority
are “the clearest mobilization of opposition elements since the 2013
election,” the London-based company said Tuesday in an e-mailed note.
Though there’s been violence, “pre-election political risk is
relatively low, by Kenyan standards,” because of factors including the
unity of the governing coalition and divisions within the opposition
Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, Exotix said.
Not sure about this assessment.
However, the IEBC is now in an untenable position and I do expect some
changes which will surely puncture the Protest Momentum.
Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Limited Q1 2016 EPS +42.375%
Par Value: 5/-
Closing Price: 195.00
Total Shares Issued: 309159514.00
Market Capitalization: 60,286,105,230
Q1 Loans and advances to customers (net) 109.787058b vs. 114.060421b -3.747%
Q1 Customer deposits 184.533840b vs. 163.428081b +12.914%
Q1 Total shareholders’ equity 44.279073b vs. 42.394316b +4.446%
Q1 Net interest income 4.883545b vs. 4.423471b +10.401%
Q1 Total operating income 7.248986b vs. 5.846791b +23.982%
Q1 Profit before tax and exceptional items 3.697047b vs. 2.516058b +46.938%
Q1 Profit after tax and exceptional items 2.582948b vs. 1.808849b +42.735%
EPS 8.35 vs. 5.85 +42.735%
Net NPL and advances 6.475352b vs. 3.261676b +98.528%
Loan loss provision 5.417586b vs. 3.022725b +79.229%
Sasini Tea and Coffee reports H1 PBT 2016 +667.723% Earnings here
Par Value: 1/-
Closing Price: 18.50
Total Shares Issued: 228055504.00
Market Capitalization: 4,219,026,824
One of Kenya's lead tea and coffee producers.
H1 Revenue 1.587013b vs. 1.268315b +25.128%
H1 Gains/[Losses] arising from changes in fair value of biological
assets less cost to sell 449.199m vs. [59.102m] +860.040%
H1 Finance income 48.062m vs. 12.468m +265.483%
H1 PBT 746.127m vs. [131.424m] +667.725%
H1 Profit for the period 522.288m vs. [91.997m] +667.723%
EPS on operating activities 0.86 vs. [0.23] +473.913%
EPS on biological assets 1.39 vs. [0.19] +831.579%
EPS 2.25 vs. 0
Total equity 14.023780b vs. 13.558505b +3.432%
Real Strong H1 Earnings
The Nairobi All Share ticked 0.18 of a point lower to close at 146.27.
The NSE20 Index regained the 3,900 Level since May 17th and closed
+16.47 points at 3912.33.
Equity Turnover was brisk at 847.548m.
N.S.E Equities - Agricultural
Sasini Tea and Coffee reported a +25.128% H1 Revenue Expansion to
1.587b and and eye popping +667.725% acceleration in H1 Profit before
Tax. Sasini Tea eased -1.08% to close at 18.30 on light trading of
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services
Safaricom ticked -0.58% easier to close at 17.25 and traded 6.919m
shares. Safaricom is +5.82% in 2016 and the Price underwritten at
TPS Serena rallied +5.55% to close at 23.75 and traded 17,900 shares.
TPS Serena's share price is undervalued and I expect the Tourism Curve
to steepen. The Share Price essentially assumes a Flat 2016 versus
WPP-ScanGroup rebounded +2.32% to close at 21.50 and traded 345,000
shares. WPP-ScanGroup remains -28.33% through 2016.
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment
Standard Chartered Bank Kenya reported Q1 2016 Earnings after the
market closed yesterday where Q1 2016 Profit before Tax surged
+46.938% and Q1 EPS was +42.735%. These were bulked up Earnings plain
and simple. Stanchart has surely been a Big Beneficiary of the Deposit
Flight to Quality witnessed across the Banking Sector and to which the
Central Bank Governor has previously alluded to. Net NPL and Advances
rose +98.528% and the Loan Loss Provision +79.229% but Lamin Manjang
the CEO is surely pursuing a Provisioning Policy which is well to the
right of Patrick Njoroge's ''New Normal'' provisioning continuum. The
Clue to this ''Outlier'' Q1 Earnings release was found in the recent
visit of the CEO of StanChart PLC CEO Bill Winters and the Head of the
middle East and Africa Sunil Kaushal all of whom visited with the
President. At a Dinner, Bill Winter cited East Africa as a Bright Spot
in the StanChart constellation and now we see why. StanChart rallied
+3.076% to close at 201.00 and traded just 1,100 shares. Shares are
tightly held and I continue to expect quite a sharp move higher
CFC Stanbic Holdings ramped +8.19% higher to close at 92.50 and traded
COOP Bank rallied +1.92% to close at 18.60 and was trading at session
highs of 19.00 +4.11% at the Finish Line. COOP Bank traded 66,100
Kenya Commercial Bank rowed back -3.09% to close at 39.25 and traded
3.436m shares worth 135.443m. The Cash Call has probably moved closer.
Centum eased -0.58% to close at 42.50 and traded 1.138m shares. Centum
is -8.6% in 2016.
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied
EABL rallied +0.33% to close at a Fresh 2016 High of 300.00 and traded
255,800 shares. EABL has surged +9.89% in 2016 and is a deserved
Bullish Outlier at the Securities Exchange this Year. I thank Mr. and
Mrs Ireland for Dinner last week and the MD of EABL is exuding
confidence. He has gotten a lot right and the share price is playing
KenGen which is currently conducting a Rights Issue closed unchanged
at 6.50 [which is below the rights issue price of 6.55 a share]. 3.96m
rights traded at 5 cents. Its worth picking up because even after the
rights dilution we are looking at a PE of 4.5.