Science Fiction Saves The Middle East

der golan marathon

Der Heimatlose: Heimatlosigkeit is das schöne Gefühl, in der Welt zu Hause zu sein.

The Displaced: being displaced is the comforting feeling of being at home with the world.

First. Dear worst-reader, I’m no book critic–even though I probably should be. I mean. I’ve read a thing or three about writers who never made it but ended up being book critics. Or do they end up being journalists, bloggers, drunks? Nomatter. I finally got around to reading my friend’s new novel The Golan Marathon. I’ve obviously got a few things to say about it and as a pseudo writer who might end up with a swollen liver, that may or may not be a good thing. Btw, I read Yassin’s first novel, which I blogged about hereBefore I get to this new book, I have to worst-write a bit about what’s been going on for the past few months where I’ve barely blogged and even found myself brain dead in the realm of micro-blogging, aka twitter–which I usually don’t put much effort into anyway (as any tweeter can tell). And so. For those interested in The Golan Marathon, scroll down. For those who wish to waddle through more worst-writing… Good luck.

Second. I’ve been traveling. Actually, let me put that another way. My better half has been traveling–and I’ve been allowed to travel with her. Which means, other than being a failed writer–or is it a wannabe writer?–I usually join my better half for travel because she needs me to carry her luggage. Which is ok. Husband luggage carrier is also a career. Or? And. Free flights to Asia and Africa ain’t such a bad perk either. Nor do I mind sitting in economy while she enjoys the view from business class. The other good thing is, traveling ain’t such a hindrance to my work on account

  1. I’ve got an ageing but fully functional laptop plus an ageing and poorly functional iPad4 (which Apple is making obsolete because of its stupid iOS updates) and
  2. I actually like typing on airplanes–even virtual typing on airplanes with an iPad.

Btw, my better-half’s luggage has a nickname. I call it the weight of kill-man-jar-oh.

(Short pause. Breath.)

Third. I had a ghostwriting deadline for mid November. I suppose it doesn’t matter that I got the assignment way back in July. Although I thought I could manage the travel and the work since then, the thing I can’t manage is the procrastination. This caused me to go into panic mode by the end of October when we started travelling. The only thing to do at that point is shut down all extra curricular activity. In other words, shut down anything requiring brain work that doesn’t charge per page. Of course, the most significant thing I had to shutdown was reading. For you see, when I read I really, really read. Sometimes it fully occupies me–even more so than the occupation of following each letter with my forefinger and moving my lips in sync with the words on the page. And if you think that’s bad, get a load of me when I’m reading German. I’m a royal mess when I read German. After all these years I still find it tortuous. And so. It breaks my heart when I have to put down a book on account I have to make a living. It’s like leaving a movie right in the middle. But so is life, eh dear worst-reader! With that in mind, I had to stop reading The Golan Marathon when I was about half way through it. Damn! I had to put it down for almost three weeks. Luckily I got back to it. Yeah, I got back to it.

Thoughts on The Golan Marathon by Yassin Nasri.

Heimatlose is German for displaced person. I had to look that up at leo.org. In a different context the word Heimatlos (without the ‘e’) means homeless-person. Confused yet? Don’t worry. It doesn’t get any worse. Unless, of course, the author decides to use words like Schwer–another confusing German word that I post about here. But that’s enough about how difficult German can be. 

The year is 2033. The Syrian conflict is over. The  pointy-eared, weasel-eyed dictator Assad is long gone. What is left is for Andy to find some roots. So he travels from Germany, where he was raised, to Syria, where his family is from. What Andy finds, though, is not what he expected. He not only gets caught up in the past of his family but he also realises that there is an alternative world out there. An alternative world that is ultimately an idea–and I will assume that it is a grand idea directly from the soul of the author. Luckily the idea is simple. It goes something like this. There is a unified, peaceful middle east by the year 2033. In this world there are guys and dolls who hang out, are cool and they all use futuristic gadgets like Google Glass and Apple’s Siri. Heck, there are even electric cars that rival Tesla. Yes, Yassin has created a world. And not just any world. A world of ideas.

At other times while I was reading this book I kept getting confused. And not just confused because I was reading it in German. I was getting confused about where this story takes place: Syria and the middle east. A place where, these days, there aren’t very many ideas. Is it possible that the middle east can someday find peace and harmony where young people from Israel and Syria can hang out at cafés and wear t-shirts with political statements? Really? Andy, Yassin Nasri’s alter-ego, makes the impossible possible. Andy dallies through Syria as though he’s sitting on a flying carpet and the world is his sweet date. In fact, I’m so convinced of the impossible after reading this book, that I can’t wait to go to Aleppo or Damascus… and just hang out. If all goes well, I might even still be alive in 2033 to do just that. I mean. Come on, dear worst-reader. A story has been written that perfectly describes peace and harmony in a place that reality dictates must be war-torn and kaputt? Yeah. Is this book a first of its kind? For me, at least, I think it is.

Once again my hat is off to Yassin. This book is a wondrous achievement in the genre of science fiction, the middle east and optimism. What a combination.

Rant on.

-Tommi