Daniel Birnbaum, Sven-Olov Wallenstein
A speculative, existentialist fiction on the melancholia of revolutionary politics and good intentions, Tirdad Zolghadr’s novel is composed of the logorrhea of online communication and unpublished manuscripts. At the start of the New Zion Empire in 2016—a time of unprecedented dystopic stability with superpower coalitions, generous drone regiments, awesome capital investments, and more soft-power propaganda than ever employed in modern history—Sergeant Jim of the United States is taken hostage in Yazd, once the proud seat of the Persian Empire, and becomes a wildly popular mouthpiece for Third World rhetoric, postcolonial jingles, anti-imperial anecdotes, and anti-Zionist mottos. The abductors (a ghostwriter, an aspiring self-help guru, and an academic) invite trusted celebrity blogger Claude Mann to their suburban compound to generate more hype for their cause and to possibly replace Jim as their new abductee. A few years later, the ex-terrorists reconnect when one of them decides to author a memoir of their exploits and gain fame; all the while, Sergeant Jim haunts them with cryptic, tender, frenzied e-mails. Plot is a paranoiac-futuristic novel and exercise in satire and ontology.