April 22, 2024

The Critical Case Of A Man Called K.. The Escape From Self Prison

The Critical Case Of A Man Called K

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This novel, “The Critical Case Of A Man Called K” (shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2018 and published by Dar Al-Tanweer), can be described as a narrative in which the author, Aziz Mohammed, seeks to explore the authenticity of his readings of previous texts. The protagonist, whose name intersects with the protagonist of Kafka’s “The Trial,” is depicted as an isolated reader. Simultaneously, he is a writer who steals time from the pockets of capitalism, which hinders his commitment to literature. However, he constantly strives to grasp his own essence through the vocabulary of language without an intermediary, as he fully understands its dimensions. His silence in reality turns into confession in his writing. He refrains from mentioning any character’s name in his diary to avoid prying readers. Nonetheless, he adopts a pseudonym derived from his literary aspirations as an artistic device to conceal himself behind his narrative. Thus, the sole protagonist of the text remains his own life.

The Textual Memory

The novel begins with the protagonist and diarist awakening, accompanied by a constant feeling of nausea and difficulty breathing. It’s as if Aziz Mohammed intended to renew the contract of life with his protagonist through pain, as if the beginning is a moment accompanied by suffering that shaped his pessimistic and indifferent personality towards the world’s disasters. Here, the author skillfully employs the tools of his narrative to negate himself, as he writes a text that serves as his diary, while simultaneously emphasizing the form that aligns with his story. Thus, he remained a witness to his writing from the very beginning.

In 269 pages, Aziz Mohammed formulates his protagonist’s struggle with leukemia in the form of weekly diaries, reminiscent of his favorite writer Kafka. In these diaries, he expresses his constant frustration with work, illness, and family, seeking to document his life through direct language that does not allude to interpretation or even employ symbolic language where meaning is concealed. He recounts what the eye sees without resorting to metaphors or granting a scene a poetic touch that breaks its structured rhythm. He adopts Kafka’s school of thought in his writings, particularly inspired by Kafka’s novel “Metamorphosis”. Aziz Mohammed’s novel is pervaded by a Kafkaesque pessimism towards work, family, and religion, yet it’s not a pessimism devoid of hope or absolute resignation in his outlook on life. Instead, he borrows from his memory what could provide him with a lost identity in his childhood. It’s as if through writing, he searches for a single reason for existence amidst this strangeness, or simply finding solace in his own being.

Illness as a tool for questioning

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