Monday, December 04, 2006

State of Siege by Juan Goytisolo

A review of Juan Goytisolo's State of Siege.

Juan Goytisolo's labyrinthine novel, originally published in Spanish in 1995 and now ably translated by Helen Lane, is at once an account of the siege of Sarajevo, a parade of postmodern storytelling techniques and an indictment of Western indifference. The action involves the death of a man resembling Goytisolo who visits Sarajevo when Serbs blockaded it between 1992 and 1996, and killed more than 10,000 people. In the subsequent investigation into the man's identity, the author offers several different narrators, including an academic turned hotel receptionist who lost more than 20 years' work in the burning of the Sarajevo library, and a bumbling major of the ''International Mediation Force'' who writes detailed reports about a handful of homoerotic poems and stories left behind in the dead man's room.
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