‘The Critical Case of “K.”’: The Diary as a Trick

The novel follows “K,” who reads Kafka and decides that he, too, wants to keep a diary, although he is frustrated by his limited abilities and boring life:
By Mahmoud Hosny
In his debut novel The Critical Case of “K,” الحالة الحرجة للمدعو ك (Dar Altanweer, 2017), the Saudi writer Aziz Mohamed uses a diary format to tell the story of a young man called “K.” The protagonist is sick with leukemia and struggles with his illness, family, and work environment in an unnamed country—although it’s clear from the place details that it’s a Gulf country. The central theme of “K.” is much stronger than most literature coming from the Gulf. We can’t know how they think, and this focus on K.’s way of seeing leads the work to a lengthy focus on the illness and its medical details, as well as K.’s ideas of the world. From the beginning, the narration flows smoothly. Aziz takes a deep dive into K.’s illness, works on crystalizing his childhood, and describes details of his relationship with his family and work colleagues. When K. There’s some flatness inherent to the way the writer draws the other characters in K.’s family and workplace. At the same time, there’s no reconciliation with the self. Through the second half of the work, the reader can predict what will happen: K.’s decisions and behaviors towards those around him become repetitive and redundant. We can see here a decision, on Aziz Mohamed’s part, to write a book that seems to be a person’s diaries. The novel’s vocabulary and sentence structure tend to simplicity, which helps the novelist avoid weakness and slowness in the narration. And you know that if, one day, he publishes a new book, you’ll want to get a copy to see what he has this time. Yet this book needs more editing work, because we are still looking to read a novel, not diaries, and the diaries here are just a technical trick, not a structural goal. decides he will do something, it appears as a reaction to others, a move against them, not something chosen by himself. However, there’s something in the chronological approach, and the way that the time unfolds, that negatively effects the narration’s rhythm and weakens its ability to be more stylistically diverse. That could be a central question around the writer’s way of creating K. All this helps in making the core of the novel solid. In this, the dramatic escalation fails us, as it doesn’t remain surprising until the end. Mahmoud Hosny is an Egyptian author and critic. The work reads like a satire of society, whether addressing the characters at home or at work. Advertisements

Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditGoogleTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading…‹ Emily Drumsta Wins PEN Heim Grant to Translate Nazik al-Malaika’s ‘Revolt Against the Sun’Categories: International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), Saudi A deep exile appears at the core of K.’s personality, with many readings translated from or written in foreign languages. Saudi novelist Aziz Mohamed’s The Critical Case of ‘K’ is on this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist. We see them just through K.’s eyes, through their behaviors towards him and how he sees all of that. Yet with all of these criticisms of the novel, Aziz still has something solid in the core of his work.