and thought to myself, yep -- that is definitely me, since as I've discovered, recent events have yielded a multitude of WTF moments that I'm struggling to cope with, bringing on stress-induced lethargy, which is a struggle to try to overcome. Anyway, the point is that it's been a beyond-tough month.
The Bleeding of the Stone is the work of Libyan author Ibrahim al-Koni. Mr. al-Koni, according to the blog Arabic Literature (In English), was born in 1948,
"raised in Libya's Fezzan region among nomadic, Tamasheq-speaking Tuareg. It wasn't until he was twelve that he began to formally study Arabic. He went on to study literature in Russia, after which he moved to Poland, and then finally to Switzerland in 1994."He has won several awards, among them the Swiss State Award (1995) for this book, the Japanese Translation Committee Award for his Gold Dust (1997), and in 2010, the Arab Novel Award. His novel New Waw won him a place on the shortlist for the National Translation Award in 2015, the same year he found himself as a finalist for the Man International Booker Prize.
In general, as noted by Ursula Lindsey at The Nation, al-Koni's entire "oeuvre"
"charts the disintegration of the country's nomadic, tribal and mythic culture under the impact of foreign intrusions and then of oil wealth."
Interlink Books, 2013
translated by May Jayyusi and Christopher Tingley
"Only through dust will the son of Adam be filled."
The Bleeding of the Stone pulls in the reader not just because of the story, but also because of the lovely blending of mysticism, Sufism, Islam, the Old Testament, and traditional beliefs. Additionally, some of its chapters have epigraphs from such thinkers as Herodotus, Sophocles, and Ovid that set the stage for what's to come within. Sofia Samatar, writing for The Interstitial Arts Foundation explains that the book can be read as an "ecological parable and also a portrait of the desert as a rich and vital center," but it is also a story that pits the traditional world against the worst of modern intrusions, and a novel that speaks to resistance. Finally, it is just flat out beautiful in terms of the writing. I really wish I could give this novel the treatment it deserves, but I'd be here a long time so check out the links at the end of this post.
The Bleeding of the Stone is not going to be for everyone -- it's a very out-of-the-box kind of read that absolutely demands reader participation and lots of think time, but it is an incredibly powerful novel that I can most heartily recommend.
***a couple of things:
1. an interview with the author
2. one of the best articles I've found on this novel by Sofia Samatar -- at interstitialarts.org
fiction from Libya