Freeman, John (Ed.). Granta 116: Ten years later

Allen and Unwin, $27.99

Edition 116 of literary magazine Granta examines the decade since September 11, 2001. Since then, far-flung pockets of the world have been altered in both obvious and subtle ways, described here in essays, fiction, poetry, and a striking refugee photoessay by Nadia Shira Cohen.

The fiction postures against a post-9/11 background. An ex-marine struggles to rejoin civilian life, a father asks a Somali warlord to help find his son, Toronto is overrun with stray dogs and coyotes, a North Korean spy on a fishing boat crosses the path of a US frigate, and a nasty warlord holds an unfortunate young Afghani captive, in deft stories by Phil Klay, Nuruddin Farah, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, Adam Johnson, and Nadeem Aslam.

These imagined brushstrokes illustrate essays on today’s world. Tahar Ben Jelloun details police brutality under Ben Ali in Tunisia and Egypt’s Mubarek. Anthony Shadid writes of happier times in Baghdad, when the Jesuit’s Baghdad College was a beacon of learning during Iraq’s “American Age”. Declan Walsh traces the rough existence of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas from British colonial rule to the drone-stuck present. Elliott Woods takes a road trip to visit some veterans, Pico Iyer examines air travel security, Janine di Giovanni remembers a martyred Tunisian graffiti artist, and Ahmed Errachidi describes Guantanamo life in an extract from his forthcoming autobiography.

Big scope for a little book, and not a word out of place.

 

Reviewed September 2011

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