Graphic by Joaquín Kunkel Edited by Koh Terai/The Gazelle
Here at The Gazelle, we work hard to bring you interesting, informative content that you can enjoy and engage with. But what do we read when we aren’t in production every Saturday, working late into the night? The Weekly Graze is a series in which The Gazelle’s staff members pick their favorite written pieces from the past week, in the hope that you might discover some interesting reads too.
, Hjalmar Söderberg, translated from Swedish by Paul Britten Austen
A Swedish novel first published in 1905, Doctor Glas is not ahead of its time, but rather wrestles with socio-moral issues that bubbled up over the course of the 20th century and continue to do so. Told as an epistolary novel through the titular doctor's journal, Glas ponders whether or not he should perform illegal abortions, argues vehemently for the right to physician-assisted suicide, ruminates on women's rights and, most important to him, considers facilitating his neighborhood crush's extramarital affair. The work is intensely grey and dreary, emphasizing the urban sadness of someone successful but who never seized opportunities or raised his head in objection. Glas narrates nighttime strolls along the water in Stockholm, dining in the most fashionable cafes and restaurants while hoping acquaintances seated nearby won't notice him. Many reviewers highlight Doctor Glas as a meditation of love and morality, but most importantly, it is about failed aspiration, about having dreams you're certain you will never achieve. It's a novel about an unremarkable unmarried virgin with no friends who despite knowing that there’s another world out there, but lacks the means or motivation to seize it.
Djebar gives readers a haunting view into the lives of Algerians under French occupation. The novel follows multiple characters living in a rural Algerian town while the Algerian resistance to French rule takes place in the mountains nearby. Every evening the women and children would lock their doors and stare out the windows as planes bombed their fellow Algerians. What I loved was Djebar’s focus on women with interlocking lives and how they dealt with the increasing turmoil of their surroundings as well as its impact on their own lives.
I had to read Hanif’s debut novel because of the greatness of his second novel, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti. I’m halfway through Mangoes, and I am not disappointed. For the most part, the death of Zia-ul-Haq, a military dictator, serves as a platform to deal with bigger issues that plague Pakistan. Mangoes allows Hanif to unleash his wit on the Pakistani military industrial complex, the relationship between Pakistan and the United States, and the pervasive corruption in the Pakistani military bureaucracy. Hanif just might be the greatest satirist after Manto to write about Pakistan.