Reading from a Blank Book by Hernand Bas (2013)

The story may be about migration, as the first few chapters strongly hint. Simón and David's initial difficulties upon leaving the refugee camp Belstar for Novilla produce an encounter that is consistent with migration's perplexing, agonising, and unsatisfying side. Simón and David are forced to sleep in Ana's garden and are treated like scum twice after failing to contact Seora Weiss, who is meant to have the keys to their room (Coetzee, 2013, p. 9). Simón and David's issues are resolved in a very ironic way, as they discover the door is unlocked on their third attempt to contact Seora Weiss (Coetzee, 2013, p. 20). The misfortune of missing Seora Weiss serves as a metaphor for how immigrants deal with bureaucracy.

The allegory of David being unable to locate Seora Weiss and, as a result, their refuge's key, reflects how invisible immigrants are to natives everywhere. Whether this is due to a language barrier or other difficulties, it can lead to dysfunction and make it difficult for visitors to resolve issues. Speaking and expressing oneself in a second language and second home is never easy. The main issue of the book is the difficulty of expressing oneself in a second language. Integration challenges include Simón's dislike of having to "convey his feelings in beginner's Spanish" (Coetzee, 2013, p.127). Although Spanish is widely spoken in Novilla, it is not anyone's first language, making it difficult for its residents to communicate.

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