Djelal Kadir


On his book Memos from the Besieged City: Lifelines for Cultural Sustainability

Cover Interview of April 19, 2011


Memos from the Besieged City should be read as an ethical intervention in a larger conversation—larger than the strictures particular academic disciplines and their argots have imposed on our institutional and individual horizons. In this sense, it is a performative participation in what we now call “world literature,” that is, an engagement with the worlds of literature that define our world and embody the literary corpus as worldly aggregate of our cultural histories.

In the face of abhorrent political and social realities, current critical discourses may have begun to emerge from the arcane modes of highly sophisticated and self-reflective soliloquy.  While we may be central to our historical and cultural consciousness, this book argues that consciousness has to be alert to more than itself.

Memos from the Besieged City is intended to be part of this ethical turn, one in which we read historical and textual realities closely and, at the same time, see the larger implications of what we perceive.

Close reading, if properly critical, is not oblivious to the more distant resonance and worldly repercussions of our acts of perception and discernment.  Vigilance to this aspect of our endeavors is tantamount to an ethics of reading and writing.  And Memos from the Besieged City should be read in the spirit of this alertness.