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(DV) Rajiva: Fictionalizing the New World Order







Fictionalizing the New World Order
A Review of Andre Vltchek’s
Point of No Return 
by Lila Rajiva
January 30, 2006

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A certain piquancy in the phrasing hints that the author of Point of No Return is not a native speaker. This is Czech-American journalist Andre Vltchek’s first novel in English and the fact adds to the color of an unpretentious but supple narrative that takes us swiftly through the underbelly of the New World Order.  


Karel, an international reporter, understands the ambiguity of his own position as a well-paid voyeur of war and suffering, but is not yet ready to sacrifice it. He travels from one outburst of violence to the next, from Palestine to Indonesia to Peru, a camera between himself and the bloodbaths he records, haunted by the memory of a six-year old girl fleeing her burnt down house, whom he might have adopted. In the shelter of his apartment in “anonymous Lima” he survives on tenuous e-mail connections with his editor and an assortment of girlfriends and chat buddies, but has no ambition for deeper connection until he meets Reiko, the wife of a rich Japanese businessman, and discovers finally that he too has arrived at a point of no return.  


Vltchek’s novel will appeal to readers tired of the navel-gazing exquisiteness of much contemporary Western fiction and its refusal to engage with social or political questions.


Yet, the book does not romanticize the victims of political oppression. Images of veiled Middle Eastern women make a mute counterpoint to Karel’s sexual encounters. We overhear the language of Arab anger against Jews. And after killing a fifteen-year-old boy, a group of Indonesian villagers justify themselves, “We’re victims here, just protecting ourselves.”


More impressively, Vltchek’s narrative offers an ironic, and sometimes comic, subtext to Karel’s own need for “elegance and filth, beauty and ugliness.” There is the cat-rescuing right-wing Italian Countess, Francesca Conti, whose honesty and boredom with “European Union faggots” leads her to Karel and then to an unintended martyrdom as the “people’s whore”; there is a sometime girlfriend too lazy to step out of the posh Paris apartment where she composes piano preludes to South East Asian vegetables and fruits; there is Reiko herself, whose past returns to avenge itself on Karel’s obsession with belonging to no one and nothing; and finally there is New York -- “an enormous brain and enormous engine” -- where the event which accelerates the coming into being of the new political order erupts one morning on a TV screen.  


TV, e-mail, camera lenses, the religious mysticism of Poulenc -- none of these finally can protect from the reality of suffering and death. Vltchek has written a colorful and elegantly crafted novel with a political stance that will engage some and provoke others but is always heart-felt and sincere.  


For those interested in learning more about publishing political fiction or non-fiction, please contact Andre Vltchek or Mainstay Press directly. 

Lila Rajiva is a freelance writer in Baltimore, and the author of the must-read book The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the US Media (Monthly Review Press, 2005) She can be reached at: lrajiva@hotmail.com. Copyright (c) 2006 by Lila Rajiva

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* A Short History of RADIO FREE IRAQ
* What Did European Agencies Know About the Torture Flights?
* The Torture-Go-Round: The CIA’s Illegal Rendition Flights
* The Gratitude of Turkeys
* Rodent Trials Show Biotech is Squeaky Unclean
* Willie Pete and the Theo-logicians of Empire
* Dover Bitch
* Economics Trumps Law in the Neoliberal Gulag
* Coming Out On Hallowe'en
* How to Recognize a Liberal Feminist
* License to Bill: In India, Bill Gates Does Well by Doing Good
* The Burgh, Downsizing
* Preview of Abu Ghraib in New Orleans
* Leviathan in the Flood: Katrina and the Fishy Logic of the State
* The NPT is Dead.... And It's a Good Thing Too
* An 800-Pound Gorilla Goes to the UN
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* Vision Mumbai Submerged: Water, Water, Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink
* America's Downing Syndrome, or Why the Not-So-Secret Air War Stayed “Secret”
* Turkey Supreme
* Witches and Bastards: An Imperial Wizard and a Prescription for Anti-Imperialism
* Playing Monopoly in Charm City
* The Pharisee’s Fire Sermon
* The Ideology of American Empire
* Tsunami Cover Up? NOAA and the Flood
* Iraqi Women and Torture, Part IV: Gendered Propaganda, the Propaganda of Gender
* Iraqi Women and Torture, Part III: Violence and Virtual Violence
* Iraqi Women and Torture, Part II: Theater That Educates, News That Propagandizes
* Iraqi Women and Torture, Part I: Rapes and Rumors of Rape
* Nicholas Kristof's Fox Pas(s)
* Putting Conservatives on the Couch: Transactional Analysis and the Torture Apologists
* The New Post-Colonial Racism
* Eyeless in Iraq: The L.A. Times and the Fog of War