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Day 9: a book that makes you sick

This is day nine of the 30-day book challenge.

Difficult one. I think I have never read a book that actually makes me sick. Sorry for this boring answer, but I do not really read thrillers nor horror stories. However, if I have to choose, it would be this one:

Heart of Darkness (1902) – Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad did base this story upon his own experiences in the Congolese jungles, but I doubt he encountered the evils that his main character Charles Marlow does. It is a very difficult novel to read, Conrad’s use of words is heavy, and there is much meaning compressed into the 100 pages of darkness. The ill-making factor is that Conrad is not softening the blow, he really tries to depict the truth in its raw original nature. He mercilessly puts it out there, whatever it may be. That is what makes me sick, apart from the narrative of torture and killing, the ultimate horrors of colonialism and imperialism in European-ruled Congo.

This novel, which I just finished this Friday, I have not had time to review yet, but I can tell you that it is indeed dark, and penetrating in a very abstract sense – it is putting the reader out there, without giving it away. It is very much like wandering in the dark, knowing the truth is out there somewhere, just not tactile enough. Perhaps Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now makes it easier to understand its message.

***

Close calls:

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) – Robert Louis Stevenson’s thrilling inquiry into human nature’s duality does include some passages that are close to spine-chilling, especially when Stevenson describes the shape of Mr Hyde’s physical form.

Half of a Yellow Sun (2007) – Chimananda Ngozi Adichie tells a story about the Biafran War (1967-70), and doing so without depicting the horrors that followed would not be an accurate description at all. We are used to seeing dead or dying people from Africa, in our badly twisted western media, but hearing the story being told by a Nigerian makes it stronger and more intense.

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