The Last Summer of Reason


The Last Summer of Reason

Tahar Djaout
Translated by Marjolijn de Jager
Foreword by Wole Soyinka
Introduction to the Bison Books Edition by Alek Baylee Toumi

176 pages


September 2007


$16.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

This elegant, haunting novel takes us deep into the world of bookstore owner Boualem Yekker. He lives in a country being overtaken by the Vigilant Brothers, a radically conservative party that seeks to control every element of life according to the laws of their stringent moral theology: no work of beauty created by human hands should rival the wonders of their god. Once-treasured art and literature are now despised.
Silently holding his ground, Boualem withstands the new regime, using the shop and his personal history as weapons against puritanical forces. Readers are taken into the lush depths of the bookseller's dreams, the memories of his now-empty family life, his passion for literature, then yanked back into the terror and drudgery of his daily routine by the vandalism, assaults, and death warrants that afflict him.
From renowned Algerian author Tahar Djaout we inherit a brutal and startling story that reveals how far an ordinary human being will go to maintain hope.

Author Bio

Tahar Djaout (1954–93) was an Algerian novelist, poet, and journalist, and the author of twelve books, including Les vigiles, winner of the Prix Méditerranée. An outspoken critic of the extremism stirring his nation, he was assassinated by an Islamic fundamentalist group. The manuscript of this novel was found among his papers after his death.
Marjolijn de Jager teaches Dutch and French language and translation at New York University. Wole Soyinka is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and the author of more than thirty books. Alek Baylee Toumi is an associate professor of French and Francophone studies at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and the author of the play Madah-Sartre, available in a Bison Books edition.


The Last Summer of Reason has acquired a new and haunting immediacy since the attacks of September 11. . . . Deftly translated from the French by Marjolijn de Jager, and with a foreword by Wole Soyinka, the novel provides an anguished dispatch from what nearly became Algeria’s future. . . . An elegiac ode to literature and a furious protest against intolerance.”—Adam Shatz, New York Times

“One is reminded of how life-affirming and dangerous literature still can be.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"The Last Summer of Reason provides a powerful and strangely beautiful reminder of the danger of letting violent ideological fundamentalism fester. We would do well to heed this reminder now, not later."—Jennifer Bryson, Public Discourse

Table of Contents

Sermon 1
The Vigilant Brothers
When will the quake happen?
The summer when time stopped
Pilgrim of the new times
The Good whose substance the Almighty established
The nocturnal tribunal
The binding text
A dream shaped like madness
The future is a closed door
The message suppressed
For that we will live, for that we will die...
Therapists of the spirit
One should come from nowhere
The unknown arbiter
Born to have a body
Does death make noise as it moves?

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