Currently reading

Paul Hanley
A Month in the Country
Michael Holroyd, J.L. Carr
A Tale of the Dispossessed: A Novel
Laura Restrepo, Dolores M. Koch
Mesabi Pioneers
Jeffrey Smith, Russell Hill
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes
Jon Rothschild, Amin Maalouf
Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Nayomi Munaweera

The Barbary Figs

The Barbary Figs - Rachid  Boudjedra, Andre  Naffis-Sahely "This war: this cancer!"

Boudjedra examines the ongoing war of post-colonialism through an Algerian prism in this little gem of a book. Two men (cousins, sort of) are trying to make sense of their experiences, their lives, as they sit on a plane between two Algerian cities. The war for independence is long past, but they are still dealing with the guilt and disappointment, the confusion and ambiguity of that fight. And the battle appears to have never truly ended, there is still more confusion and violence to be had in the present day.

So for all the very human thoughts on war, violence, idealism, guilt, family, etc, it was a fantastic read. But the mention of the female characters in the book made me more than a little uncomfortable. They weren't the focus of the book, and so the value of the story supercedes that problem, but it was enough to keep it from being a 5-star for me. A lot of the material here seems to be quasi-autobiographical (the accompanying essay on Boudjedra's work indicates as much, and indicates that these particular characters and childhood events appeared in his earlier work as well). In the end I really enjoyed it. It doesn't offer answers to the ambiguities of war, but at least recognizes them, and paints them out in full color for us.