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Reading reflection on State of Siege - Book Report/Review Example

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Whats more, it is a powerfully emotional story which has a lasting effect on the reader despite its complicated nature. The novel is basically about the siege of Sarajevo in the late 1990s, set amongst the…
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Juan Goytislos of Seige is a very lengthy and complicated novel. Whats more, it is a powerfully emotional story which has a lasting effect on the reader despite its complicated nature. The novel is basically about the siege of Sarajevo in the late 1990s, set amongst the massive genocide that took place at that time. The book also sometimes takes quick asides into Paris.
It is a very strange book, and people seem to vanish for no reason, or learn they are people inside a book instead of real people, and so on. In that sense, the book was very post-modern, and reading it felt a bit like a puzzle. I felt like the author was trying to constantly trip me up and make me look at the book sideways in order to even figure out what was going on.
On a more basic level, though, the book was very disturbing. It reminded me of reading the news even though it was much more complex. More importantly, it gave me a new insight into how those horrors must feel for people who are caught up in them while they are happening. For instance, when reading about some of the tragedies going on today in the Middle East with ISIS and other horrors, it is easy to see the news only as a statistic of peoples deaths, or as a dispassionate account of something that happens a long way away and will not affect you.
But in State of Siege, you cannot get that level of distance. The violence is constantly in your face. The ever-present snipers menace you while you read, and every time they show up, like in the section where the man throws a pillow up in the air to see if the sniper will really fire, it is incredibly unsettling. The mans feelings are almost more confusion that error. “Why precisely him and no one else?” he asks (page 66). You feel as if you were really there, and as if it is happening to you. It is terrifying, and almost gives you nightmares. The effect lingers on in the pages of the novel, as well, so that the whole thing has a very tense air of heightened emotions to it.
On top of the violence, of course, there is the mystery of the dead man, and the complete weirdness of the attempt to figure out his identity. The bureaucrat assigned to figure him out seems to pay way too much attention to tiny little details, without ever getting any closer to the truth. Perhaps the weirdest thing about the book, though, is the structure of it. The way we are reading jumps from letters, to pieces of evidence, to poems, to a more traditional narration like we would expect in a novel. This and other post-modern kinds of weirdness works with the violence to keep you from analyzing the story during the genocide on an apathetic, distant level as you would in a newspaper.
Ultimately, the novel does more than just show you what its like to live through a violent uprising. It traps you inside of a violent uprising of its own, it keeps turning you on your head over and over. It makes you feel, more than just intellectually understand, what it is like to actually have lived through the senseless violence, and the senseless aftermath of trying to figure out the violence as if logic has some part of it. It is a very powerful book, and one I will not forget for a long time. Read More
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