Cover image for The last summer of reason
The last summer of reason
Djaout, Tahar, 1954-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Dernier été de la raison. English
Publication Information:
St. Paul, Minn. : Ruminator Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
xvi, 145 pages ; 19 cm
Added Author:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Library
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A chilling novel about a free-thinking bookseller who sacrifices everything to resist a fundamentalist regime. The Last Summer of Reason, found among assassinated Algerian writer Tahar Djaout's papers after his death, tells the elegant, haunting story of a bookseller's fight against against radical fundamentalism. This brief, intense novel is a powerful and timely indictment of terror and closed-mindedness throughout the world, and a fitting final statement from this acclaimed writer and tireless fighter for democracy.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Boualem Yekker is a bookseller who refuses to abandon his liberal political beliefs despite pressure from the totalitarian government. His wife and children abandon him and accept the political and religious rhetoric of the nation's new leaders. Yekker is left to his memories of the way of life he has lost and of the last summer of reason, the last season in which people tried to fight the oppression of the emerging government. Yekker is a truly literary hero, openly disagreeing with the treatment of women and intellectuals in his country and never abandoning his belief in the power of books to restore sanity to a nation driven mad with self-righteousness. His creator Djaout's own defiance was silenced when Islamic extremists in his country, Algeria, assassinated him in 1993. "His opinion of life was too high for him to make do with its shadow," Djaout writes of his protagonist. That is a fitting epitaph for a brave author who believed in the power of words to conquer the hate that grows out of fear. --John Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

A bookseller battles the bizarre restrictions of a totalitarian regime in this final novel by Djaout, an Algerian novelist, poet and journalist who wrote the book just before being assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists in 1993. Bousalem Yekker is the haunted, introverted protagonist, a 50-ish woodworker who also runs a bookstore in a culture being stripped of artistic expression by a conservative group known as the Vigilant Brothers, who believe that such expression should be subjugated to the worship of God. Djaout provides precious little elaboration on how the group took over, and even less on why the youthful supporters of the movement would buy into the drab, colorless world the party's vision endorses. Most of the book consists of chapters in which Yekker finds himself increasingly boxed in by government repression. Once he realizes he is basically powerless to fight their efforts, he begins to look back on the more romantic aspects of his own past with an odd mixture of bitterness and nostalgia. Djaout's writing displays an excellent flair for poetic description, but the threadbare plot doesn't provide much to differentiate this novel from other titles in which heroic protagonists battle repressive regimes. The concept of a culture in which art, beauty and expression are totally repressed is an interesting notion that allows this book to work to some extent as a cultural parable, but the underdevelopment of the plot prevents Djaout from getting beneath the surface of the compelling issues he tries to examine. (Oct.) Forecast: While this book will be easy to promote Djaout's tragic history should prompt review coverage it may be more difficult to sell, though a striking jacket photo of a book in flames and a foreword by Wole Soyinka should help distinguish it from similar efforts. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Sermon 1p. 3
The Vigilant Brothersp. 9
When will the quake happen?p. 17
The summer when time stoppedp. 27
Pilgrim of the new timesp. 35
The Good whose substance the Almighty establishedp. 47
The nocturnal tribunalp. 57
The binding textp. 67
A dream shaped like madnessp. 73
The future is a closed doorp. 79
The message suppressedp. 87
For that we will live, for that we will die ...p. 89
Therapists of the spiritp. 93
One should come from nowherep. 99
The unknown arbiterp. 107
Born to have a bodyp. 117
Does death make noise as it moves?p. 129