Ron Slate's blog

on 2084: The End of the World, a novel by Boualem Sansal, tr. by Alison Anderson (Europa Editions)

In the wake of the Great Holy War of 2084, hundreds of millions of martyrs lay dead and vast regions are devastated, probably caused by atomic weapons. Now there is only Abistan whose residents worship the omniscient deity Yölah and his earthly messenger Abi who rules absolutely through his many ministries in the capital city of Qodsabad. How long ago did the great victory occur?

on Compass, a novel by Mathias Énard, tr. by Charlotte Mandell (New Directions)

A slight fever, racing pulse, cramps, vague discomforts – what is ailing the musicologist Franz Ritter other than habitual melancholia and insomnia?

on The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin, convoluted by Jens Hoffmann et al (Yale University Press)

Hannah Arendt once described Walter Benjamin as among “the unclassifiable ones … whose work neither fits the existing order nor introduces a new genre.” But a new genre is exactly what he inspired: the cross-breeding of forms – journalism, citation, exegesis, philosophical asides, flashes of memory.

on France, Story of a Childhood, an autofiction by Zahia Rahmani (Yale University Press)

Zahia Rahmani was born in Algeria in 1962 just as that country’s eight-year war of independence from France was ending. Her father was counted among the “Harkis” – the 75,000 Algerians who fought alongside the French against their own nationalist countrypeople. Literally overnight, the French crept away leaving 20,000 Harkis to be pulled from their beds, massacred and imprisoned.

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