Move over Bruce Bawer, you've got a novel companion to your eye-opening expose "While Europe Slept" (Broadway Books, 2006). Algierian author Boualem Sansal's 2008 novel "Le Village de L'Allemand ou Le Journal de Freres Schiller" has been translated into English and newly released as "The German Mujahid." The infiltration of European cities by militant Islamists, as chronicled in meticulous detail by Bawer, is now semi-fictionalized (the jacket tells us this story is based on a true one) and, therefore, becomes more immediately recognizable as a here-and-now threat to France, Western Europe, and the world.
Sansal, however, goes beyond the present--1996 that is--and sends Rachel Schiller, the 33 year old son of a Nazi war criminal, on a trek through Europe and North Africa as told through entries in his diary. Rachel is in search of an explanation for his father's horrific deeds and is desperate to reconcile this monster to the man he knew as a loving father and an Algerian freedom fighter. Rachel's teenage brother Malrich reads the diary and retraces his brother's journey, in search of his own peace of mind and also a need to escape the oppressive infiltration of his Parisian neighborhood by militant jihadists.
Two brothers, both in agony, move through two continents, one attempting to atone for the sins of his father, the other coming to grips with both the realities of the Holocaust and the increasingly violent stranglehold of Islamists working to build an Islamic nation in the suburbs of Paris.
Bawer notes that these discontented occupants of Parisian housing projects, veritable ghettos of North African immigrants, are "a looming challenge to twenty-first century European prosperity, stability, and democracy." Sansal, who's clearly knows his way around the 'hood, says, through Malrich, that "the estate has become unrecognisable. What was a Sensitive Urban Area, Category 1 has become a concentration camp." And in exploring the thin border between Nazism and Islamism, has placed himself, we may assume, in a rather precarious position in his native Algiers.
Malrich is consoled by his friend who advises him "It is mektoub, Malek, it is fate, we must accept it." Malrich answers "It's not mektoub, Mimed. It's us, we're the problem." Depressing? Oh yeah, most definitely. But Rachel reminds us that at every moment of our life, we have a choice. And Santayana, of course, told us "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
This is a must-read book. And pick up "While Europe Slept" while you're ordering.