A series of 78 ‘flash fiction’ pieces but they can also read like highly lyrical prose poetry. It’s hard to pin down whether it’s either/or but this is an irrelevant detail. The writing here is simply amazing and that’s all that matters. What matters more is what these pieces have to say to the reader.
They are a testament to how much can be said with such few words. Bustani is one of those rare authors who are possessed with this talent. Those who write know this is not an easy feat. There is something about his style which reminds me a lot of Eduardo Galeano, who had the same amazing ability, only Bustani’s pieces are far more lyrical, poetic, with a touch of surrealism for good measure. They do cover some of the same ground, though, which is what immediately allowed me to immerse myself into this collection.
Each piece is different yet there is a coherent theme throughout which makes it hang together as a whole. There are no titles to each piece, they are only numbered, divided into sections which ruminates on a particular theme — perceptions of meaning, as the title indicates; history, love, hate, war, the tumultuous changes taking place across the Arab world, self-exploration, the changing nature in which we communicate with one another since the advent of the internet and social media; there is a hell of a lot to digest and to contemplate.
This is a book you will not be able to put down. This is a collection of writing that will make you think. It takes a hell of a lot of talent to say so much in so few words. Bustani does so brilliantly.
Translated by Thoraya El-Rayyes