Kafka's The Trial
and Koestler's Darkness at Noon
lie squarely behind this bleak 1997 novel by the Lebanese author of the recently translated Dear Mr. Kawabata
(2000). The unnamed narrator, accused of defacing a picture
(of what, and why, this action is criminal are never disclosed), imprisoned and interrogated, then subjected to a rigorous self-questioning that seems to point to a generalized universal guilt, for which he is perhaps justly punished after all. But so little is revealed (we know only that it's set during Lebanon's recent civil war), that the reader's sympathies are never fully engaged—and it all seems to add up to little more than a rather pointless exercise in fictional technique.
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