Monday, 21 December 2015

Christmas Greetings

Happy Holidays to all my friends, followers and readers
 'The painter's colourful world', 18 x 24", acrylic on canvas 
(c) Barbara Sala 2015




Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Chapter 1, 12

"The Map of the DRC"

Part 1 Chapter 12

This is an excerpt from the book INSECTUAL, page 51 :

The map of Congo-Kinshasa called the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one and a half times the size of Europe and 77 times the size of Belgium, reminds me of a rectangular head with a long snout dipping into the Atlantic Ocean. The back of the “neck” is the copper-rich Southeastern province of Shaba and running down half the back of the head is a luminous blue braid. This is the region of the great lakes starting with Lake Victoria to the north in Uganda and running down through Lake Albert, Lake Edward and Lake Kivu to Lake Tanganyika in the south. The top of the head is bordered by Uganda, Sudan and the Central African Republic. The big green area covering at least one half of the whole country resembles a brain. This is the tropical forest, one of the world’s great sources of oxygen. The DRC is the heart and lungs of Africa.
      The high forehead is bordered by Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville). The snout, running toward the Atlantic Ocean, squeezes itself between a rocky cliff into the delta that forms the DRC’S narrow 25-kilometre-long coastline. Three cities, like three jewels, are crammed into this delta. One of these jewels is Matadi.
      We were on our way back from our weekend-long local honeymoon at the small beach resort of Moanda on the shores of the Atlantic. At Matadi, our car climbed the asphalted highway that cuts through the rocky escarpment. This road is one of the most travelled in the whole DRC, bringing goods to Kinshasa, since the Congo River between Matadi and Kinshasa cannot be navigated because of its many cataracts. Reaching the top of this escarpment, we stopped to take in the tremendous view over the harbour and the narrow delta. Ocean steamers and cargo boats of all sizes were coming and going. To our left lay Angola with its rich oil fields and facing us was Congo-Brazzaville.
FREE: You can read the first 24 pages of INSECTUAL for free.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Part 1,11 Run Spider Run!

"Run Spider Run."
The Wedding

Part 1 Chapter 11

On Maya’s wedding day spider woman appears at the rim of the broken web: “You destroyed my web! Why did you tell me to run? You want to run away from  the web that your thoughts have woven. You tricked yourself into this marriage and for that you want to kill me! You created your web with the yarn of your unhappiness and loneliness. You made yourself believe that you love this man. So leave me alone. Don’t kill spiders. We are useful and I have many children to feed.”


Spider woman crawls up the branch of the hibiscus tree and continues: “During night I wove a material of exquisite stardust into a veil for you. It is my present for you. Even if it is broken now hang the veil above your bed and it will catch your dreams. This veil should always remind you that you need patience, intelligence and great skills to make your marriage work.  In your new life tradition has no big place. Not everything is useful that your grandmother taught you.  You have to find new solutions.”

With this spider woman turns around, picks up the silver thread and hides underneath the leaves.

INSECTUAL is available at, (in paperback and electronic version) and other sites that sell books.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Ann Diamond's review

Review by Ann Diamond, 19 October 2015 on Goodreads, 4 stars out of five.

INSECTUAL The Secret of the Black Butterfly.

I've read INSECTUAL at various stages as I was involved in editing it beginning about ten years ago. I'm very glad to see it finally appear in print. It has all the qualities other reviewers have mentioned: strong, vivid writing; a fast-moving story that begins in Nazi Germany during the war years, moves to the Belgian Congo in the early sixties and another particularly bloody war, then comes to rest in Montreal where the narrator enters therapy with a brilliant psychotherapist who helps her retrieve childhood incest memories and unfreeze her considerable artistic talent. (Writing is just one of Barbara Sala's gift - she's also a well-respected "naive" painter.)

I haven't read the current version of INSECTUAL -- a brilliant title that I believe her granddaughter contributed to the project. I'm a fan of Barbara's writing (and painting) but we came to loggerheads when she revised the book, back in about 2010. I was in love with the earlier version - a masterpiece of dramatic irony with a darker subtext than the current one - in fact I thought it really had "bestseller" potential as a portrait of a woman caught in the throes of romantic obsession to the point of extreme-self-deception. If this version is disturbing, the earlier one was at times terrifying in its exploration of a shattered female psyche, almost (but not quite) rescued and redeemed by art.......

Friday, 16 October 2015

Part 1,10

“It feels like the “Devil””
The Gynecologist

Part 1 Chapter 10

He is the daemon who sits very tall on her shoulder. He knows nobody can see him, because he rules in another dimension. To the human eye he is invisible, but to the human heart he is very painful. I, as a painter, however, can make him visible. He represents a vibration of great unhappiness and confusion and my main character was much too young to understand this feeling when it arose for the first time.  So she called it “the devil”. To my reader I want to say that there is no devil in this story. It is a feeling.


The daemon has a strong grip on her and his hands form a knot over her chest.  The folded hands resemble a flower. No light can penetrate to reach Maya’s hungry soul. “Insectual” is Maya’s journey to discover the meaning of “the devil” feeling. This will be revealed to you at the end.


The daemon doesn’t want the flower to unfold. He would have less control over the situation. Can the gyno help? The gyno in his white cloak cannot hear the daemon through his stethoscope and therefore the daemon does not exist. So the doctor tells Maya she is crazy. Can her future husband help her? Lorenzo with his pipe belching smoke into the environment cannot either.


At that time in the 1960s I was reading Rachel Carson’s Book “Silent Spring.”  She foresaw a Spring  without the songs of birds.


It is difficult for me, the painter, to analyze my own images. They are mostly the work of my unconscious. Not questioning them, I give them life on paper. And now I give them meaning through words.  Thanks for reading them.  And maybe your eyes see something completely different again. This is ok as well. Let me know.



Saturday, 12 September 2015

Chapter 1, 9

"Love does not exist"
The List
 Part 1 Chapter 9
The crescent of the moon, silvery and sparkling, has sunk onto the earth among flowers and grass. The sickle has become the extension of man’s anger. The sickle cuts off the flowers of love, since this man says “Love does not exist.”  Does he really believe it or has he other reasons to say so? His opinion doesn’t change the fact that everything on this earth and in this universe is an expression of love.

Although convinced that love does not exist, he doesn’t destroy the roots of the flowers of love. They sparkle in great intensity. Therefore the flowers of love will grow again and maybe by then he will appreciate their existence.
Another Review by Danielle B. :
I just finished reading your amazing book (I started it yesterday). I was seriously hooked from your first two words:  Making love. Wow, what a start to a book that is inspirational, mesmerizing, troubling, raw, mystical, fascinating, insightful, hopeful, sad, deeply personal: there are not enough words to say how I was touched by you. I enjoy a book sometimes for the writing, sometimes for the story, lucky if I have both in the same book. I had both in abundance with yours (the writing is wonderful as well as the story); however, the added bonus of the art is just marvelous. In each chapter I kept going back to the art several times: it added dimension, joy and depth to each. ..."




Thursday, 13 August 2015

Part 1,Chapter 8 8

"I want to marry you."
I want to marry you.
Chapter 1, 8

A declaration of love? He holds a flower in his hand. She keeps her distance and continues reading. She is sitting on boxes of soap flakes!! The small transistor radio is her only possession. In the distance a river, the Congo River, and boats, telling of possible travels to and from faraway places. The truck is an ideal vehicle for the Cong


olese bush roads. In my mind I am flying away and connect with the past. I hear the waves of the river tapping against the shore. I feel the tropical heat on my skin. I hear the insects buzzing in the dense forest.

INSECTUAL, The Secret of the Black Butterfly, available through

In Montreal INSECTUAL is now available through the Paragraph Bookstore, 2220 Avenue McGill College, Montreal, H3A 3P9



Thursday, 16 July 2015

Chapter 1, 7

July 17, 2015

I have organized a Giveaway with The Giveaway is for one book. The Giveaway will only be open for entries starting midnight on Monday, July 20 through midnight on Thursday, July 23. Have fun and good luck.  Here is the link: 
Chapter 1,7- Abortion
“Bridges over loneliness”
She is very small. Her man resembles a big bear. Does she feel inferior to men or is the world so dangerous that she needs such a strong man? He accepts to be a bridge to the life which the two will build  together. She hopes he will protect her from the ups and downs! In the distance there is a small church. A spiritual yearning slumbers in her unconscious, but she doesn't know how to access it.

Another Review:

Official Review by Online

Post Number:#1  Postby ananya92 » 15 Jun 2015, 13:24     4 out of 4 stars

.Insectual: The Secret of the Black Butterfly by Barbara Sala is a book which can be categorized in the Historical fiction genre.
This story traces Maya’s journey which begins in Germany, coinciding with the Second WorldWar. Maya grew up in Bavarian Alps, where the family had fled to escape from the bombing raids. Growing up was a tough experience for Maya, due to the constant tension between her parents which culminated in their divorce. After finishing her education Maya moves to former Belgian Congo as part of a UN mission. There she meets and marries her Italian colleague and gives birth to her two children, in the middle of all the chaos of the Mulele Revolution. The ensuing revolution forces Maya and Lorenzo (her husband) to move to Montreal with their family. Maya’s life has been eventful but there has been an ailment ailing her, gnawing at her subconscious constantly, something that she calls ‘the devil’. This ‘devil’ is now threatening to end her marriage and tear apart her family. Maya undergoes psychotherapy to find out the reason behind this condition and discovers that the answer is hidden in the troubled memories of her childhood. Will she find out the truth that she desperately seeks?
The book is divided into four parts with around seventy chapters in all. All the chapters begin with a dialogue quoted from the chapter, accompanied with an intriguing, often funny, illustration. The illustrations are mostly related to Maya’s fantasies or her dreams. The story is written in first person and starts with Maya’s life in Montreal. The story is written mostly in the form of flashbacks and the author takes the reader back and forth in time, tracing Maya’s journey across three continents. The fantasies and dreams which the author conjures for Maya’s character are quite inventive, with a deeper meaning camouflaged in them. One huge positive of this story is its unpredictability. With every flashback a new facet of Maya’s life comes to fore, changing the direction of the story. There are plenty of metaphors and symbolism used by the author to narrate this tale.
This book is pretty unusual in the sense that though there are some familiar elements like sexual abuse, troubled child psychology due to separation of parents, etc, it doesn’t follow the oft taken route and displays a twisted view of things. At times I was confused whether I should see Maya as a victim of circumstances or a victim of her own mind. Our protagonist, Maya, lives in a dual world caught between reality and the world of her imagination. She desperately wants to save her marriage and give her children a good family life. The other characters in this book are also interesting and not conventional characters made in the familiar mold. One would sympathize and be annoyed with them at the same time.
The author weaves in two important events in history and portrays them through a different lens. Readers who like psychological thrillers coupled with historical content should try this one. This book tells a story which is thought provoking and has a dark tone. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars for its unusual plot and riveting storyline.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Chapter 1.6 - Meeting Lorenzo

Chapter 1,6 
Meeting Lorenzo

  "Parks abounding with exotic wild Life."
Maya’s journey takes us now into the heart of Africa, the Congo, “The Heart of Darkness,”  as it is named in the novel by Joseph Conrad.

The sketch shows a park with exotic animals. Since these animals are symbols of Maya’s character, we might say that she is strong (lion) and intelligent (elephant), adaptable (crocodile) to challenging situations and of great curiosity (monkey).  Her soul (bird) can soar high above the clouds. Beware the ostrich!  He is the symbol of denial, but the lion,  who is also a sun symbol, keeps watch over her. 
Pirogue Traders of the Congo River

Another review of Insectual:
This was one engaging tale that I couldn’t put down! I did have to have some patience in the beginning until I felt that I was more caught up in the thrust of the story, but the author does a great job of explaining all the back story and sub plots. I enjoyed the easy flow and inventive ideas and plot of “Insectual”, and really liked the characters! Happy that they were not cliché, cardboard cutouts but relatable and real.  I liked that I never quite knew where the story was going, and it was anything but predictable… my eyebrows shot up and my jaw dropped many times. It gets pretty intense, and I wasn’t prepared for where the book went, but I feel like it is an important story that needs to be told. The author has a great way of writing, even if it took me awhile to get into the flow. Oh, and I loved the drawings at the beginning of each chapter! ( 4 stars). essieharmon




Thursday, 28 May 2015

Chapter 1,5 - The "Devil" - Also Review by Layla of Indie Book Reviewers

"Wailing in deep, deep Sorrow."  (page 29)

Chapter 1,5


The "Devil"

Where is this sorrow coming from? She is on her knees, but she is not praying. She seems to be imprisoned (see the window) and some weird creature is having fun in bouncing on and off her neck. “Deliver me of this four legged creature” she might be thinking, but she doesn’t do anything about it.  It looks like an insect, a spider, a clown with horns. What do you see?  If you turn the page a little, her position also resembles a brain. Definitely she is wailing in deep deep sorrow. 

Review by Layla of Indie Book Reviewers:

To say this book is totally unlike anything I’ve ever read before would be an understatement.  I’m not sure how to even describe this book as SO much happens, and it seems to touch on so many elements, themes, and subjects, times and places. It is told in a stream-of consciousness manner mostly recounting past events (but told in present tense…). I think that you need to take your time while reading it to really grasp everything the author is saying, as it will require some deeper thought and reasoning. Gets pretty dark and twisted, and definitely for a mature audience only. But overall a very interesting, different type of book that is memorable, moving, and very well-written. (4-5 stars).