Mary Beth Writes

10/13/2021

“Brotherhood” by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr is the most compelling novel I’ve read this year. I read the first half as if I was reading a book for the first time; it felt as if the writer was expressing a story so powerful he called it fiction just to get it out, to me, to us. 

I skimmed the second half because I was exhausted by the impossible trauma and decisions the characters would need to endure and try to survive.

Let me say right here than many will survive. Not all.

This synopsis is from Europa Editions. This is the URL   

“This novel takes place in the imaginary town of Kalep, where a fundamentalist Islamist government has spread its brutal authority.

Under the regime of the so-called Brotherhood, two young people are publicly executed for having loved each other. In response, their mothers begin a secret correspondence, their only outlet for the grief they share and each woman’s personal reckoning with a leadership that would take her beloved child’s life.

At the same time, spurred on by their indignation at what seems to be an escalation of The Brotherhood’s brutality, a band of intellectuals and free-thinkers seeks to awaken the conscience of the cowed populace and foment rebellion by publishing an underground newspaper. While they grapple with the implications of what they have done, the regime’s brutal leader begins a personal crusade to find the responsible parties and bring them to his own sense of justice.”

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was born in Dakar, Senegal in 1990. French is his first language; this book was translated into English recently. Sarr studied literature and philosophy in Paris.

The Brotherhood is an Islamist organization that overtook the fictional African city in which the story happens. The leader of the military is utterly devout and utterly confident that he is saving people from slipshod western ways. He and his military underlings patrol the town continually for people who are not acting purely. The book begins with the executions of the young lovers. There will be more instances of brutality. These incidents are not overwritten, the point of the novel is not to scare us, but to invite us to belong to people who don’t know how to get their good and stable lives back.

This is the question that kept me turning the pages. We don’t live in that brutality, but most of us are fearful for what could happen, for what seems to sometimes be happening in dribs and drabs around us. Our sassy and beloved freedoms are eroding in the name of purity and power. 

This chilling description of people giving up communicating.

I found this curious and powerful. That when one is under extreme pressure and duress – where can we and should we turn? These brave characters, after weeks of discussion, decide to publish a journal. Do we underestimate our power to affect our communities through writing and reading?

For anyone who has lost a child. This line. “I feel like I’m carrying him inside me a second time.”

What interesting statements. People are dangerous and unpredictable and people are our only recourse.  

I feel as if I sat in a master class of humans who thought hard and risked so much to find ways to oppose oppression.

 

 

Tags

Comments

Leonard's picture

I have been reading de Tocqueville, which is maybe the nerdiest thing I've done in quite a while. He wrote about the United States in 1835, and he was very perceptive about what would make the US succeed, and potentially fail, as a democracy. A lot of what he says is contradictory, including the idea that people always push back against a dictator ... but when one group has an opinion not shared by another group, the group in the minority will push back against the majority with all the hatred and rebellious energy as if the majority were a dictator. Kind of like what's going on now.

Add new comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Instincts

5/24/2022

What Turns You Around?

I am just home from a walk to and from the YMCA gym. It takes more than an hour and since I am not an ‘early bird gets the worm’ kind of person, this ruins several mornings per week. Though I have been having the heart function tests they throw at you when you say your heart fibrillated like 7-Up and mentos tablets for a couple days back there. Just another older American here, keeping cardiologists off the dole. So far my heart is testing well and I suspect the walk and the gym are part of why I’m fine.

Rosemary Radford Ruether & The Fierce Poetry of Hope

5/23/2022 Rosemary Radford Ruether

 “Rosemary Radford Ruether, a founding mother of feminist theology, has died at age 85” https://www.npr.org/2022/05/22/1100596818/rosemary-radford-ruether-feminist-theologian-dies-at-age-85

 ...

Rosemary Ruether taught at Garret Evangelical Theological Seminary while I was a student there in the late 1970’s. I only took one class from her but for me it was a doozy.

The Badlands

4/29/2022

The Lakota call this land "mako sica" which translates into "badlands." They and many other wanderers and settlers named it this because it is so hard to travel through.

Wade in the Waters

4/28/2022

This is a small announcement that could be a lot of fun for some of you.

For the past two years Len has been a volunteer Wisconsin stream monitor. Once per summer month Len and another guy (with whom he has become friends) check water quality and stream-bed life at a few local sites. Before they started, they received clear but uncomplicated training in order to understand what is being looked for and how the testing equipment works. And they received hip waders!

Who's in the Mirror? Representation Matters

4/19/2022

Who’s in the Mirror? Representation Matters

Old story, I’ve probably mentioned it before: In 1977 I was visiting a friend in Ohio for a weekend. We went to her United Methodist Church on Sunday which is in itself amazing since we were two single 20-something women who had been out drinking the night before.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent anniversary antlers apples appointments Arrows Ashland August Augustine baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Eclipse EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer firealarm Fitness Five Flexible flu Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd ghosts gifts girls gorgons GovernorThompsonStatePark granola groceries Guatemala gum guns happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance heart HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope hurricane impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Janus JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha Nancy Drew New Mexico New York City Nomadland Ocotillo OnaJudge OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples poetry Preaching privacy Protest Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism recipe recipes Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb rime RitesofPassage Rosemary Ruether Roses Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraRodriguez sculpture Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spring square feet staining stele Stereotypes StoryStarts stress Survival swim taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards ThreeThings Three Things TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam VivianWokeUpDrowning vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Willa WillaCather Wisteria
Ad Promotion