Have you ever read any book from the 2021 International Booker Prize Shortlist? What are your thoughts on it?
Thank you Netgalley and Pushkin Press for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“You have to be careful, when you believe you’re free to think about what you want, not to let in the thinking of others, in disguise, the false thinking of your father and mother, the spurious thinking of your grandfather, the masked thinking of your brother or sister, of your friends, in other words, of your enemies”
War stories have a major role in maintaining our sense of perspective in the modern world. Stories of seperation, grief, reunion, joy; we’ve heard it all. What about stories on the battlefield? What of the emotions and mental trauma a soldier goes through? This book aims to make that available to us, a soldier’s story from the warfront.
Poetic, heartbreaking and entirely enlightening, ‘At Night All Blood is Black’ focusses on a singular human emotion: REGRET. It talks about a lesser known part of the ugly side of the war; the story of a West African man who fought for France during World War 2.
It is the story of the awakening of a man who lost his bestfriend in the war, and the build-up of regret in his body because he thinks he was the reason for his friend’s prolonged suffering. That’s the effect death has on us; we think of reasons to pile the blame on us because there’s nothing we can do about inevitability.
There are in general 7 stages of grief: denial, guilt, anger, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction and acceptance. All of us must have encountered grief personally or through a second-hand account, so we know how a person develops from each stage and pulses through. But in this story, the protagonist goes through the same stages of grief, but takes a different turn such that the overall development we see in him is improbable and at the same time beautiful, which is why this book provides an important message.
It tells us that nothing is general in life, nothing is foreseen or foretold, and so life is unexpected. We can and should never expect a person to recover just as we did. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder goes a long way, and it is up to us to embrace it or leave it be.
Another concept this book talks about is the freedom of thought. It tells us that not one human on Earth is free to think, because all of our thoughts are influenced by the people around us. When we finally break free from the mainstream thought process, we’re labelled hysterical. Freedom and being human is thus paradoxical.
David Diop did an amazing job in putting his thoughts in such a fantastic manner with proper emphasis at the right lines, and hats off to Anna Moshovakis for making sure that even in translation, the essence of the book was maintained.
For fans of the movie 1971 and otherwise, this book is must read!