I should tell my namesake that love is the only axiomatic reality, the diagonal line to the divine ratio connecting kindred spirits. The mystery of our being is God’s only refuge for when he feels like letting go.— The Man Who Snapped His Fingers
Summary and Thoughts
Winner of the 2001 French Human Rights Prize, French-Iranian author Fariba Hachtroudi’s English-language debut explores themes as old as time: the crushing effects of totalitarianism and the infinite power of love.
She was known as “Lure 455,” the most famous prisoner in a ruthless theological republic. He was one of the colonels closest to the Supreme Commander. When they meet, years later, far from their country of birth, a strange, equivocal relationship develops between them. Both their shared past of suffering and old romantic passions come rushing back accompanied by recollections of the perverse logic of violence that dominated the dicatorship under which they lived.
The Man Who Snapped His Fingers is a novel of ideas, exploring power and memory by an important female writer from a part of the world where female voices are routinely silenced.
Though only 144 pages long, The Man Who Snapped His Fingers, is an emotionally rich, thought-provoking novel dense with psychological reckonings with the legacy of trauma, political suppression, and the nature of love. I found myself spending the entire day reading and ruminating on its themes and characters, feeling their striking turmoils and admiring the strength, especially, of prisoner 455, a woman who I wish had a bit more of a spotlight on the diversity of her character beyond the events of her torture and romance. Additionally, there are some aspects that do not resonate well at all – specifically the author’s depiction of mental illness and disability, which is deeply concerning to say the least. Still, I believe this novel is certainly worth picking up, as it provides an often overlooked perspective in English-translated literature, and see this novel as deserving of its award. I definitely recommend picking this up, keeping your heart open to the harshness and beauty of the story (while still keeping a critical eye to when it fails to acknowledge the humanity of disabled communities).
For Those Who Enjoyed:
- Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
- In The Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner
- The Bridge of the Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
- The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende