cover image The German Mujahid

The German Mujahid

Boualem Sansal, , trans. from the French by Frank Wynne. . Europa, $15 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-933372-92-1

Two immigrant brothers discover the truth about their German father's past in this masterly investigation of evil, resistance and guilt, billed as “the first Arab novel to confront the Holocaust.” Narrator Malrich, the younger son of a German father and an Algerian mother, lives with relatives in a gritty, mostly Arab housing estate outside Paris. Malrich is an indifferent hoodlum while his older brother, Rachel, has a university degree and a glamorous job at “a multinational.” The plot hinges on Malrich's reading of Rachel's diary after Rachel commits suicide. After their parents were murdered in Algeria in 1994, Rachel discovered that their father was a Waffen SS officer posted to the death camps. In alternating chapters, the story is perfectly rendered in Malrich's wonderfully adolescent voice and Rachel's increasingly agonized diary entries. All this plays out against Malrich's perceptive likening of Hitler's Germany to the rise of fundamentalist Islamism on his housing estate and his realization that he must take action against the “Nazi jihadist fuckers.” An absorbing and all too relevant novel for our times. (Oct.)