State of Siege
Published by: City Lights Publishers
Imprint: City Lights Publishers
144 Pages, 5.30 x 8.50 x 0.40 in
- Published: September 2008
A traveler looks out his hotel window on a war-torn city. A mortar explodes in his room and, when the police arrive, the corpse has disappeared and only a notebook of apocryphal writings and poems is found. These enigmas lead into a labyrinth, where blind and barbarous forces lay siege to individual lives and diverse cultures.
"State of Siege is a novel of pure fiction, but infinitely more powerful than all the big speeches about Bosnia."—Le Nouvel Observateur
"A passionate dialogue with the reader, a reflection on privacy and commitment [engagement], with the steady vigilant presence of a great literary voice."—Le Monde
"The reader is thrown into the unreality of a besieged city, as if a firm hand had rudely pushed him out of the tank that brought him from the airport."—L’Express
"For the Spaniard Juan Goytisolo, writing is a dangerous adventure."—Lire
"Dreams, reminiscences of the war in Spain, thoughts on the novel, borrowings from mystery and detective fiction, references to ancient cultures and Arabic culture, numerous allusions to the narrative structure of Don Quixote—these make up the form of this novel that, as the author says in an ironic and provocative way, isn’t written ‘according to the rules.’"—Fayard Presse
Juan Goytisolo was born in Barcelona in 1931 and lives in Marrakech. In 1993, he was awarded the Nelly Sachs Prize for his literary achievement and contribution to world culture. His translated works include a two-volume autobiography, Forbidden Territory and Realms of Strife, the novels Marks of Identity, Count Julian, Juan the Landless, Quarantine, Virtues of a Solitary Bird, The Marx Family Saga and The Garden of Secrets, and the essays Saracen Chronicles and Landscapes of War.
"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. . . . Goytisolo effectively lets Sarajevo's horrors speak for themselves, with his portraits of snipers who take indiscriminate aim at children and of a man who shows tenderness for a starving kitten only to have it die from overeating."—The New York Times Book Review
"Seven years after its original publication, the territory expands apace, well beyond the pages of his novels or any one geographical setting. State of Siege now reads like painful literary prophecy."—Village Voice
"The often-confounding, but ultimately rewarding, narrative lines running circles through State of Siege find Spanish novelist Goytisolo combining a Borgesian spirit of play with the lyrically righteous anger at oppression perfected by Eduardo Galeano."—Booklist
"Goytisolo's latest novel comes out of his visits to Sarajevo in the early '90s, but it's hardly journalistic. An attempt "to oppose the truth of fiction to the lies of propaganda," the slippery, labyrinthine plot—about the mysterious disappearance of a foreigner's body in a Sarajevo-like city under siege—holds dream narratives, fragments of homoerotic, mystical poetry, and fantasies of a Parisian neighborhood's collapse. Goytisolo strives for a unity of politics and form, trapping his readers and characters alike in an epistemological purgatory in which "Reality has been transmuted into fiction: the horror tale of our daily existence!"—Village Voice Literary Supplement