The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko / Black Plane Review
It’s been weeks since I have read The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko. Now I have the time and energy to talk about it.
Frankly speaking, there is not much to discuss here story wise. But there is a certain aspect I really wish to explore – that is the White Airplane.
White Airplane is the opposite of Black Airplane.
What is Black Airplane?
To understand it, I have to give you a quick summary of the short story I read in the 11th standard English book.
In the Black Airplane, a man is flying a plane to his home. He is happy, and sure to celebrate Christmas with his family. Then comes a storm.
His plane compass starts rotating in all directions, and the fuel tank shows not enough to go back. He is going to die, he thinks. But he saw a man waving a hand to him from a black airplane. The man says to follow him, and he does. He comes out of the storm, lands and runs to the desk to thank the man. But the girl on the desk said that there was no other plane in the sky other than his that night.
And he begins to think!
How was he able to hear the man in the storm? How was he able to see the black airplane?
The motif of the story was that the person saved himself in the tragedy. There was no Black Airplane. He needed help, so he imagined it.
This happens all the time. We all invent our black airplanes!
We give the credit to luck, good timing, and many other things! We value our hard work and skills much less. Maybe it is the humbleness, or maybe it is the lack of self confidence!
But the black airplane exists.
So is white airplane. White airplane is when you don’t want to do a certain task, so you create reasons and excuses to not do it.
It is different from procrastination. You want to do the task, but the way the task can be done, you don’t do that, but you believe that the task can be done in another way, so you do that again and again.
To understand it better, let’s see the summary of The Invention of Exile first.
Austin is a Russian man with a deep understanding of math and physics. He is good with mechanical and electrical instruments. He falls in love with an American girl.
However, living in America became a challenge when the war broke out. He was exiled. His wife joined him, but he was then, again, in a way exiled from the Russia too. So he does not belong to any country. He spend his life in several country and ends up in Mexico.
An American country takes back the women and kids – because they were American. But not Austin.
For the next 10 years, Austin tries to invent new things, in the hope that the American government will find his invention useful and call him back.
But they never did. His kids grow up and take him back to the country. Illegally. Which he was against, but kids persuade him.
Austin wants to go to America, but he do not want to cross the border illegally. But going in is so easy, and when his son makes him do it illegally, he realizes he spent 10 years away from his family, all because he does not have the guts to do what he did now.
He could have easily crossed the border.
Instead, he created a white airplane, a CIA agent who comes to him and tells him that the government is watching him. There is no CIA agent. It’s all his way of not doing the thing.
But why would you do it? He loves his wife, and kids.
That is what baffles me. I thought and thought, and I think he was afraid of never meeting his family. Because the consequences of illegal entry are forever banned or jail – which means he can never see his family again. For now, there is hope that one day the government will allow his visa and he can meet his family.
It reminds me of another good story.
The story of a peasant who proposed the princess. The princess rejected. The peasant says that he will spend 100 nights at a hill that was visible from the princess room. Princess used to watch her and counted the days.
On the 99th night, the man packed and left. The peasant does not wait for 100 days, as he said. But it was not because his love was fake, but because his love was too true. If the princess did not come in 100 days. How would he live knowing that the princess does not love her? Would it not be better to live your life in a denial that princess loved her and as going to come to meet him at 100th night, but he did not stayed.
This thought is much more calming than outright knowing that it is never going to happen. As hope is a terrible thing, and also a good thing.
But it can lead you to madness.
Austin liked the hope more than the outright rejection the illegal entry could make. So he created the fake airplane, believing that there is no other way to enter the USA than the one he is trying.
The story was boring tbh, and the writing was not even that impactful. The end was rushed, and there were some stupid instances that went over my head – like why would you marry a Russia during a war.
But that is love. Nonsense, and make you do stupid things.
Do I Recommend this Book?
This is certainly a love story, with a war background. But the background plays only one role, that is to keep Austin away from the America. There is not much affect we see in the book otherwise.
Overall, it was an okay book – but I would not come and anyone to read it.