The first thing that struck me about this book is the diversity of characters in an otherwise gray landscape. The novel is set in Ghachimat, Algeria, where land is as desolate and parched as its people later become. In a place of utter hopelessness and dearth, Yasmina Khadra introduces characters in each chapter that are intertwined with this place, each living his life the same way each day. These people live everyday lives, (some) have jobs, and have loves and loves lost. Everything seems stagnant for a few chapters, but soon we discover that it takes but one event to strike a nerve, and previously benign occurences now drive them to insanity, and sometimes to do what can only be described as pure evil. In the Name of God is about a group of men who are driven to fanaticism from what starts as a simple yet clandestine Islamic movement. Even those not initially part of this movement are forced in by threats, and they succumb to the compelling wishes of their superiors to unleash wrath of their village through brute force and sheer ruthlessness. Perhaps the most chilling aspect of this novel is the utter simplicity with which it is told. Khadra structures her sentences in a very lucid fashion, excluding dramatic verbiage and telling it like it is…which turns out to be more descriptive than any metaphors could accomplish. Although the events that occur are unfathomable, it’s alarming to think that radicalism can take root so effortlessly, and Khadra does a fantastic job of teasing out the radical propensities from arguably normal human beings.

Cross posted here