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- Books of the Year 2018 / Part Two
He fakes an illness and his Mom comes to pick him up from school; once home, he swears to himself that he will never go back to school again. The first section of the novel, written from Auggie's perspective, introduces us to the major characters in the book. We meet Auggie himself, along with his family and the other kids who will feature regularly in the story. We also get a sense of the main conflict in Wonder : Auggie will be faced with the challenge of fitting in at a new school where he is an outsider primarily because of the way he looks.
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Even early on, Palacio outlines the theme of surmounting obstacles and showing courage that will permeate this novel. Auggie will constantly have to face hardships that most children do not have to confront. He will have to show great resolve and initiative in going to a real school and interacting with children who are not always kind to him. It is difficult to achieve this level of bravery, but right from the start Palacio establishes such bravery as one of Auggie's principal qualities. Because this section is written from the point of view of Auggie himself, it provides an important insider's look into the struggles of living with a facial deformity.
Palacio knows that most readers who will pick up her book do not suffer from Auggie's rare condition; consequently, it is essential that she be able to effectively convey Auggie's reality to people who have never really experienced anything like it.
Immediately, she makes it clear that Auggie is a normal, smart, funny boy on the inside -- and that he just happens to look different on the outside. Placing readers inside Auggie's mind accentuates this side of Auggie's character and provides a unique perspective that most readers would not otherwise have. There is clearly a huge contrast between characters who know Auggie well and characters who do not. Everyone who knows Auggie well -- Via, his mother, his father, his old friends -- can look past his deformity and see him for who he truly is.
People who do not know him, though, like most of the kids at Beecher Prep, judge him quickly and thus spend more time avoiding him than trying to befriend him. Of course, first impressions can be misleading; Auggie is so much more than how he looks. Palacio certainly illustrates the heartbreaking ways in which children can be cruel to those who do not "fit in"; she also, however, shows that some children do have a remarkable capacity for kindness. Summer is one of these praiseworthy individuals, a student who immediately takes a simple yet important step to make Auggie feel welcome. Summer serves as a model both for the other characters and for readers.
At first we are led to believe that Jack is a model of kindness, too, but later on we learn that he may be worse than he appears. Browne's precepts will serve as an important device for the rest of the story. These precepts are primarily a lesson for the students, subtle reminders of the way they should behave towards others.
Each precept applies in some way to Auggie's situation. But the value of the precepts does not stop there; Mr. Browne's sayings are obvious morals for readers to heed as well, since Wonder is very much a novel with legitimate implications for real life. Auggie's cutting off his Padawan braid is a small yet important scene in this first section.
'Wonder' Is a 'Feel-Good' Movie That Needed More Realism - The Atlantic
Both the individual Padawan braid and Auggie's larger Star Wars obsession are prominent symbols of his past. By going to school, Auggie is signaling his desire to move forward in life, rather than remain rooted in his childhood. Cutting off the Padawan braid represents taking the next step; in this way, Wonder will be a coming-of-age story, as Auggie continues his forward march through his first year at a real school. This coming-of-age will not, however, come without obstacles.
There have been small acts of cruelty throughout this entire section, but Auggie has become desensitized to some of these reactions by now. He understands that people who do not know him will not always look past his face. You have to be a friend.
These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they've died. They're like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, they're made out of the memories people have of you.
And that's not easy, even if you're not me. We could all wear masks all the time.
Books of the Year 2018 / Part Two
Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks. I felt a kind of connection with Daniil Kharms when I discovered his work, so I thought my work would also end up in a similar way. Or someone like Paul Scheerbath. That was also why it was such a surprise to win the SEA Write award. CM : How do you feel that your work, and Thai writing at large, has changed since these stories were first published?
PY : My style has changed considerably over the years. I was a bit extreme with the puns and wordplays in these early stories. Now I write much cleaner, and I have more self-restraint with wordplay. I also tend to write longer.
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And lately my stories tend to have socio-political dimensions to them. CM: Where does a piece begin for you? In Foyles, you mentioned how some ideas feel like novel ideas rather than short story ideas. Are there certain ideas or concepts that feel more natural to express in different forms, and if so, do you have a generally preferred form? PY: Ideas come to me in many different ways.
So a piece of work usually begins when an idea feels solid enough, or interesting enough for me to explore. This kind of metafictional twist has always really appealed to me—in the works of writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and in recent autofiction—though I can never figure out why. I was wondering what you feel is the draw of those kind of metafictional moments?
On the other hand, I enjoy playing with the mind of the reader. CM : As both a literary translator, a publisher, and a writer whose work has been translated, do you think you have a unique perspective on the process of translation? Translators are usually underrated or under-appreciated, but any good literary translation is also the creative work of the translator.
We would never know from the translations. Some authors are more successful in some languages than others. I suspect that it has a lot to do with the translation.
In , two books by the Thai author Duanwad Pimwana will be published in the US, both translated by her. I think one of the reasons Thai literature has been of so little interest globally has to do with the history of modern Thai literature itself, specifically the fact that it has always been heavily influenced by Western Literature and never produced any qualities that could be said to be unique.
Maybe globalization was needed in order to generate more interest in Thai culture, for better or for worse. But I think the reason is also complicated there. What drew you to these works? PY: I did not choose to translate any of these works personally. The publisher, Lighthouse Publishing, approached me to do it.
I had doubts every time they asked me to translate each of these works. Of course I think these books should be available for Thai readers, but I doubted whether I would be the right person to translate them. What makes you if anything optimistic about the future? This could be an age-related sentiment, certainly, but I do wish there was something more groundbreaking to be excited about out there. I try to follow new music, and a lot of the new stuff is pretty good.
It may already be too late for me. What makes me optimistic about the future is, as always, its unpredictability. I look forward to being surprised and impressed by something that may be just around the corner. We'd love to receive a contribution from you too. Submission Guidelines.