Monday, April 17, 2006


Sepoy drew my attention to this NY Times article on Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo. His books can be challenging to read, but they provide interesting insights into the interaction between European and Arab/Muslim culture across the Mediterranean realm. Landscape after the Battle is particularly interesting: pasted from numerous vignettes, it describes a revolt in a Paris neighborhood driven by emigrants tired of their exclusion--more than twenty years before last year's events. The introduction is particular work of genius. The Parisian white collar workers wake up to find that all the signs--streets, stores, etc.--have been replaced with signs written in Arabic. In a short space, Goytisolo describes how this campaign swelled from disparate political graffiti. The revolt effectively shuts down daily life, paralyzing the authorities, who find the city impossible to maneuver. Actually, it reminds me of how many Americans react to Hispanicized street names in Los Angeles.


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