Amir Bukvić

Aristotle in Baghdad (and Riot in Sarajevo)

I am having a difficult time thinking about anything but riots of the day before. Savagery. But, I need to dissociate myself from it, because there’s no use in despairing and I don’t want to waste my time giving in to the blue feelings and thoughts.

So, I am writing…

I have been reading Aristotle in Baghdad this week. Walking, every morning, to my working place I read for an hour. And sometimes, when I wasn’t taking a tram, I read on my way back home, too. It put a spell on me – from the first page, I was drawn into the masterfully created, rich atmosphere of the ancient times and particularly the atmosphere of the empire palace where this engaging story takes its place. The language is smooth. It flows, it carries the reader in an unusual way – making him turn page after page but also making him stop and read bits or scenes again. However, I couldn’t escape the impression of a somewhat bad structural execution which caught me halfway through. Thinking about it I came to realize that not only are the “Aristotle’s terms” –tragedy and comedy– clumsily introduced and ‘kept alive’ throughout the plot but that the novel actually has a dramatic structure which is not working out very well…

It is a shame because it had many of the elements and much of the complexities of a great novel (in the tradition of The Name of the Rose and My Name is Red). I wish I could sit its author and make him revise it, make him try harder and harder, maybe even force him to continue cutting the diamond till its perfection… It is such a shame.

Still, I might reread it one day. The first half, at least…


8 thoughts on “Aristotle in Baghdad (and Riot in Sarajevo)

  1. I hope you are okay and keeping out of harms way.

    You had me salivating over this book I hadn’t heard of, until I finished reading your post. I like your finally balanced point of view and will probably hunt this down at the library or at least in a second hand bookshop when funds and time permit.

    1. I am okay, thank you. The riots were somehow dealt with – dozen minor delinquents who used the ongoing protests (people were peacefully protesting because of the bad economical and social situation) to have fun stealing and destroying…

      I am not sure the book is translated to English. I read, however, that there is a translation of the play (of the same name) on which this novel was based.. It won some kind of an award, it seems.

      1. There’s always a small minority, we had the same over here a few years ago and the idiocy spread around the whole country…

        I will have a look and try to spy out the play for I am always up forr something to throw my thinking into different directions.

      1. That is still more than impressive to me, your ‘determination’ to read. :) My eyes need to be on the road, probably due to my habit of trying to avoid stepping on animal poo. :p I also have a problem with a condition called ‘positional vertigo’ whereby sudden or frequent movements to the head causes me much discomfort, dizziness and imbalance. So, I try to keep my head straight, even if nothing else. :p (I have a terribly hunched back too, which I am struggling to rectify!) :)

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