Ferie er lik lesing

July 7, 2009

Da jeg var på ferie i Sharm el Sheik rundt påske leste jeg Tore Renbergs – Mannen som elsket Yngve. Jeg lo meg halvt ihjel. Det var et oppkomme i beskrivelser som det var lett for meg som lett venstresideengasjert på videregående å kjenne meg igjen i. For det akkurat det dette er en bok om. Stillbilder av hvordan det var å være ung på slutten av80-tallet og gå på gymnas (som det het den gang). I tillegg kjenner jeg jo godt en insirasjonskilde til superraddisen Helge Ombo i romanen og forestilte meg hans dialekt og måte å snakke på i alle dialogene. Som sagt – jeg lo meg skakk. De andre passasjerene på båturen utenfor Sharm kastet undrende skråblikk på meg mens jeg krøkte meg sammen, lo høyt og løftet benene i et forsøk på å undertrykke latteren. En levende, herlig bok. Jeg anbefaler den sterkt. Slutten er imidlertid svak og litt sånn, nå-må-vi-finne-en-dramatisk-slutt-slutt. Det er inidlertid mye enklere å finne på en god begynnelse enn en god slutt, så forfatteren Tore Renberg slipper unna. FIlmen har jeg imidlertid ikke sett enda. Jeg gleder meg. Det er Stian Kristiansen, en venn av meg som har regissert og han har både vunnet Amanda og fått mye skryt for innsatsen. Så en dag – etter valget, blir det Ynge-kveld hjemme.

Den neste boken, jeg nettopp fullførte er Kompani Orheim. En mye mer, hvordan skal jeg si det – voksen  – bok, selv om den burde være obligatorisk lesning for alle 15-åringer og helst stått på alle læreplaner i norsk. Den handler om oppveksten til vår helt fra Mannen som elsket Yngve: Jarle Klepp. Ikke helt enkelt på noen som helst måte. Selv om det handler om skole, tilhørighet, damer, antirasisme og alt som er viktig, er likevel hovedsporet i boken om Jarles kjærlighet, angst og hat til faren som er alkoholiker og hva det gjør igjen med hans forhold til moren. Det er en helstøpt historie som er troverdig, alvorlig og rørende fra begynnelse til slutt. i sin oppriktighet og menneskelighet. Jeg vil anbefale denne fremfor noen. Rett og slett fordi det er en viktig bok å lese for alle som har vokst opp eller har barn de har tenkt å oppdra til å bli gangs mennesker.

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  • Berber

    Stakkars heikkiki!

    Jeg anbefalte deg, og til andre, en bok for sommere, men du har slattet den.

    Du liker tydligvis ikke at potentiel velger sakl vite hvem er deres allierte.

    Aller, vi er i internet tidsalder.

    Gog sommer, og god lekture!

    Boualem Sansal – Nazism and Islamism

    As I pursued my research on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, I had more and more the feeling of a similarity between Nazism and the prevailing order in Algeria and in many Muslim and Arab countries. You find the same ingredients and we know how potent they are. In Germany they managed to turn a cultivated people into a narrow sect in the service of Extermination; in Algeria they waged a civil war that reached the summits of horror, and we still don’t know everything. The ingredients are the same here and there: one party, militarization of the country, brainwashing, falsification of history, exaltation of race, a manichean vision of the world, a tendency to victimization, the constant affirmation of the existence of a plot against the nation (Israel, America and France are by turns accused by the Algerian leadership whenever its back is up against the wall, and sometimes neighbor Morocco), xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism raised to the level of dogmas, cult of the hero and the martyr, glorification of the supreme Guide, omnipresence of the police and its agents, inflammatory speeches, organizations of disciplined masses, large gatherings, religious browbeating, incessant propaganda, generalized stifling of free speech fatal to the freedom of thought, gigantic projects that exalt the feeling of power (ex: the third largest mosque in the world that Bouteflika is going to build in Algiers, even though the country already has more minarets than schools, verbal aggression against other countries for no reason, old myths recast for modern tastes…

    Strengthened by all of this, the dictatorships of Arab and Muslim countries are doing very well and even growing more fortified. More than a thousand speeches could ever do, five short days of Qadhafi in Paris were enough to enlighten the French people on the nature of our chieftains. Ah, what arrogance, that Qadhafi! Now you understand what we experience every day that Allah gives us to live under their boots.

    N.O. – But what your novel relates is above all the discovery of Nazism itself, today, by the two sons of a German who became an Algerian. For them, living in a Parisian suburb, this discovery is traumatic. The question of the transmission of this unbearable heritage is at the heart of the book – notably in the text by Primo Levi that is quoted. Is it an issue that haunts you directly?

    Sansal – I often ask myself the question: how will our young people react the day that they open their eyes and shed the debilitating certainties that have been their daily bread, milk and honey since their childhood. You can imagine the chaos. They will have to rethink everything that has been inculcated into them: religion, identity, history, society, State, world. I sadly say to myself that they will not be able to conduct such a reconstruction effort and that probably no one will help them. The old people will also have to remake themselves. It was because their eyes were partially opened in the early 1980’s to the impasse in which the FLN had placed the country, that young Algerians in great numbers joined the FIS and the armed groups. They needed new certainties, it was urgent. Where will they go now that they have learned that Islamism only pays in the form of death and that the path to emigration is closed off to them?

    Note: The FLN (National Liberation Front) fought and won against French rule. The FLN has been the ruling party of Algeria since independence. The FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) was one of several Islamic groups that rose up against the FLN ruling party in the years, known as the “black decade”, between 1992 and 2002, approximately. The civil war that ensued caused the death of 160,00 people, in horrific circumstances – whole villages were wiped out, the inhabitants’ throats slit. All participants were guilty of atrocities, but some feel the FLN government used the armed groups to its advantage.

    At this point Sansal explains that he created the two characters of the brothers so that they could come face to face with their father’s past, adding that even though they are fictitious, he felt guilty for all the pain he inflicted on them.

    Faced with these revelations, the terrible question arises: are we accountable for the crimes committed by our parents, and in a general way by the people we belong to? Yes, this question haunts me and I have no answer. I say to myself that we are not responsible for anything, but as heirs, the problem falls to us, we can’t do anything about it. I say to myself that we do not have to repent or to make excuses but that as heirs the problem falls to us. There is no answer, but there is perhaps a solution: that the children of the victims and those of the guilty meet and speak, about a history that they will write themselves. Together, in this way, they will avoid perhaps the manicheism that actors in a tragedy naturally carry within themselves. Anyway, isn’t this we have done since the world began?

    Note: I’m not certain he is right about that. The children may have inherited a bit more of their parents (or ancestors) than he would like to think.

    N.O. – Your Minister of Veterans’ Affairs recently declared that Nicolas Sarkozy owed his election in France to the support of the “Jewish lobby.” Should we see in this a sort of resurgence – or symptom – of the past described in your novel? And what do you think of the way Sarkozy reacted to this provocation? Of his attitude in general, towards Algerian leaders and Franco-Algerian relations?

    Sansal – Had it not been for the French reaction that aroused our attention, the scandalously anti-Semitic remarks of one of our ministers, and those of the prime minister regarding Enrico Macias, would have gone unnoticed here.

    Note: Enrico Macias is a popular Franco-Algerian singer of Jewish origin who was supposed to accompany Sarkozy on his trip to Algeria. Plans were changed when Algerian officials objected to the presence of Macias.

    It must be said, our ears are saturated, we never listen to the inanities of our sinister government. From Ben Bella to Bouteflika, it’s been the same rhetoric of hatred, taught in our schools and our mosques, relayed and amplified by television and the propaganda agencies.

    Note: He then goes on to call Sarkozy a coward for not postponing the trip, for not demanding that Bouteflika officially disavow his minister and for his obsequious display of friendship with the Algerian president. He adds that Macias should have been kept in the delegation since Sarko and company were the guests of Algeria not just of Bouteflika. He says that at a time when he was hoping for some air to breathe and some progress in Franco-Algerian relations, it was disappointing to see Sarkozy ignore the insult he received, which will only encourage more of the same.

    N.O. – What hits you in the face on reading your novel, what is very violent, obviously is the mirror image between the Nazism of yesterday and the Islamism of today. Rachel’s diary insists on the specificity of the Extermination. But his brother Malrich, who perceives the imam of his neighborhood as an SS officer, goes so far as to say “when I see what the Islamists are doing here and elsewhere, I say to myself that they will surpass the Nazis if they reach power one day.” To what extent do you share this point of view?

    Sansal – We are living under a national-Islamist regime and in an environment marked by terrorism and we see very well that the line between Islamism and Nazism is thin. Algeria is perceived by its own children themselves as an “open air prison”, according to some, and as a “concentration camp” according to others who die slowly in the ghettoes. We not only feel ourselves prisoners of walls and sealed borders, but of a shadowy and violent order that does not even allow room for dreams. Our young think only of throwing themselves into the sea to reach safer lands. They have a slogan that they repeat all day long as they watch the sea: “Better to die elsewhere than to live here.” (…)

    The interviewer asks Boualem Sansal about Bouteflika’s policy of “national reconciliation” and about the evolution of violence from the attacks in 1994 in Algeria and Al-Qaïda’s suicide missions today.

    Sansal – Bouteflika’s “Charter for National Reconciliation” is not a means for reestablishing peace and the justice, truth, democracy, culture, and prosperity that go along with it. It is just another link in the totalitarian chain that the FLN has deployed on the country since independence. All it says is: “Reconcile yourselves around me, Bouteflika, let the Islamists cultivate their garden and the democrats and secularists theirs. Algeria is rich for everybody.” We had an Algeria that fought for freedom, now we have two Algerias separated by a chasm full of blood and bitterness. In truth the Reconciliation had another objective: to cover up for the Army chiefs and the secret services who were guilty of massive crimes during the “black decade”, to re-gild the regime’s coat-of-arms, to bring a major addition to the file on Bouteflika who dreams of winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Dr. Saïd Saadi, leader of the RCD (Rally for Culture and Democracy – this seems to be a political movement) recently declared that Algeria was on its way to becoming another Iraq. I share this point of view. So long as the regime is there, disorder will be on the rise. As it was, during the first years of independence, a land of experimentation where all the peddlers of utopia in the world come to propose their miracle recipes, Algeria, like Iraq, will be a country where all factions and all the mafias in the world will come to fight it out. Al-Qaïda realized that and set up a branch office. Yesterday, it was the Muslim Brotherhood, then the Afghanis, today it’s the nebulous Al-Qaïda, and tomorrow the cards will be re-shuffled and new actors will appear. The corrupt and sickening system of the FLN is like that – it attracts flies. The barrier to it is a democracy inserted into the ensemble of the Maghreb and the Mediterranean Union.

    Note: Nicolas Sarkozy has been advocating a Mediterranean Union for a long while that would include North Africa, Southern France and Turkey. It isn’t clear if the union of which Sansal speaks is the same as Sarkozy’s pet project.

    N.O. – How to fight against this terrorist threat? Your book asks the question many times over but hardly provides an answer. What role can the Western democracies play? Is the way chosen by Sarkozy, by meeting with Qadhafi, a possible path, as he himself says it is, to encourage democracy?

    Sansal – With regimes such as those led by Bouteflika or Qadhafi, the Western democracies cannot do very much. Everything they say or do will be turned against them and against us. Our leaders are formidable tennis players. They know all the tricks to destroy the ball in flight. As usual, they will get on their high horse and shout: incompetence, colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism, an affront to our Islamic values, Jewish lobby, etc!

    The terrorist threat is nothing more than that to them. At any rate, they want to manage it according to their views and tactical necessities, far from the eyes of the rest of the world. “Terrorism is still to be defined,” said Qadhafi in Spain. Bouteflika said something similar. For them the terrorist threat is a godsend, allowing them to maintain a strict surveillance over their society and to ridicule democratic pretensions, that are always presented as being whispered by the West for the purpose of weakening our national values.

    Note: He goes on to say that Sarkozy’s way has not been proved and he implies that he has no special expectation that it ever will be.

    N.O. – Who then can do something?

    Sansal – The fight against Islamism, the matrix of terrorism, demands a commitment of Muslims and their theologians. It is up to them to save their religion and to reconcile it with modernity, lacking which, Islam will be nothing more than Islamism. But the danger in Arab and Muslim countries is such that no theologian dares to undertake the necessary work of “ijtihad” (independent reasoning). And the intellectuals who do go about it in the Western democracies (Soheib Bencheikh, Malek Chebel, Mohamed Arkoun, Abdelwahab Meddeb…) are scarcely heeded in our countries. My humble opinion is that Islam has already fed too long on Islamism and on Arab-Muslim nationalism; I don’t see how it could get back on the road to Enlightenment that it was once on.

    N.O. – The Islamization of certain suburban ghettoes in France is also at the heart of your book: not only are talibans “manufactured”, but a veritable state (totalitarian) within a state (the republic) is looming. A state with its own laws and its own tax: “the ghetto will soon be a perfectly constituted Islamic republic”, predicts Malrich. Worse, he compares it to a “concentration camp”, where the inhabitants, left to idleness, would fall under the tyrannical authority of the imam, (and become) their own kapos. Here again, does this extremely radical diagnosis uttered by your character seem justified to you? Isn’t it a bit of a caricature? And if not, what is it based on?

    Sansal – Malrich’s diagnosis is not exaggerated. It’s the sad reality. In our countries, the lower class neighborhoods abandoned to poverty, to crime and Islamism by the State, are already concentration camps. Certain French suburbs are in the same way under the control of mafia and Islamist gangs, who are in contact with gangs in Algeria and the salafist networks of Al-Qaïda throughout the world. The journalist Mohammed Sifaoui, through his investigations on the scene and his documentaries, gave us proof. During my trips to France, I have had the opportunity to see it and hear it from the mouth of the inhabitants of these ghettoes.

    Note: I’m not certain that the comparison with the concentration camps is appropriate. When the prisoners of the camps were released, insofar as they were physically and mentally able, they resumed their lives, often productive lives. This is not true of the ghetto dwellers who receive substantial benefits from the French State but who deteriorate more as they are given more.

    Note: He then discusses the importance of the written word and of the readers who can turn a book into a political weapon. He moves on to September 11.

    September 11 was a terrible shock for us. That day, we began to realize that Islamism was in a much more radical mode compared to our impression, which had been that it was fighting against tyrants in the lands of Islam and installing sharia law. We now saw that its true goal was the extermination of the other, the crusader, the Jew, the atheist, the secular Muslim, the free woman, the democrat, the homosexual, etc… (the list gets longer and longer). It’s only limitation is the absence of weapons of mass destruction. Faced with such madness, mobilization has been rather timorous. Worse, both here and there, they compromised with it, made concessions (the Islamic veil, administration of the mosques, education, televised sermons, closing schools where French was taught…) Whole neighborhoods have been handed over to it (cities and suburbs), and very few today dare to face squarely the question of Islamism, much less that of Islam, the hostage of Islamism. (…)

    Note: His notion of an Islam separate from Islamism is debatable. If Islam seemed contained before, it was only because we were stronger. Now that we have weakened, Islam, the one and only, seizes the opportunity. But he is apparently too idealistic about Islam to go that far.

    The interview closes with considerations on the risks he runs by publishing his book which, he says will probably be banned in Algeria like his other books. When asked why he stays in Algeria he responds:

    (…) Like many Algerians, young and not so young, I am constantly assailed by the desire to “escape” from the camp. And always, just when I pick up my little knapsack and rush out to freedom, I say to myself that, in the end, it is more intelligent to destroy the camp, an unwelcome guest (“une pièce rapportée), than to flee the country. Algeria is a beautiful and great country, it has had a long and tumultuous history, it has had dealings with all the peoples of the Mediterranean. It wasn’t born with the FLN, it has no connection to that culture with its camps, its apparatchiks and its kapos. One day it will return to its rightful road in the sun and the land will be green again. I would like to be there to see it.

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