Europa. Jul. 2021. 208p. tr. from French by Alexia Trigo. ISBN 9781609456726. pap. $17. F
DEBUT In an unnamed African country, the North has been subsumed by the Brotherhood, an icily totalitarian group of Islamic fundamentalists who execute anyone they believe to have flouted the Qur’an—even killing all dogs, whom they declare to be satanic. The novel opens with the public execution of two young lovers whose mothers eventually reach out in tentative communication, but at its heart is a group of resisters who gather weekly at the Jambaar tavern. With tavern owner Père Badji, they include Malamine, a doctor whose wife is beaten by the Brotherhood, plus scholars and hospital workers he knows. To bear witness to the Brotherhood’s atrocities, they are preparing a journal, embodying a belief expressed throughout this critical debut, that language plays a key role in resistance to tyranny: “Probably the Brotherhood’s greatest victory [was] making people believe that communication is futile, and that the Brotherhood can speak on their behalf.” But what will happen if the journal is actually published?
VERDICT Urgent and chilling reading from a multi-award–winning Senegalese author.
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