[Marxism] James Wood: Zia Haider Rahman’s Dazzling “In the Light of What We Know” : The New Yorker

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 14 16:57:40 MDT 2014

Zia Haider Rahman’s first novel, “In the Light of What We Know” (Farrar, 
Straus & Giroux), prompts such thoughts, and in some ways dramatizes 
them. It is a novel unashamed by many varieties of knowledge—its 
characters talk, brilliantly, about mathematics, philosophy, exile and 
immigration, warfare, Wall Street and financial trading, contemporary 
geopolitics, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, English and American 
society, Islamic terrorism, Western paternalism, Oxford and Yale. It is 
a novel that displays a formidable familiarity with élite knowledge, and 
takes for granted a capacity for both abstract and worldly thinking. Its 
author, at first sight, would appear to be an exhausting overachiever: 
born in rural Bangladesh, educated at Oxford, Cambridge, Munich, and 
Yale, he has worked, the publisher’s note tells us, as “an investment 
banker on Wall Street and as an international human-rights lawyer.” His 
novel runs to almost five hundred pages; in addition to dense footnotes, 
nearly every chapter totters, like some hydrocephalic embodiment of 
erudition, from the weight of two or three long epigraphs (from Edward 
Said, Saul Smilansky, Freud, V. S. Naipaul, Cicero, Simone Weil, Dante, 
John Donne, George Eliot, and the like).


More information about the Marxism mailing list