Book Reviews

Danuta Hinc: To Kill the Other

 Danuta Hinc is a writer and a faculty member at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA  where she teaches Professional Writing. This novel 'To Kill the Other' is her manifesto of Gandhian philosophy 'To hate the sin not the sinner'. This picturesque novel presents the incident of 9/11 when the terrorist collided the aeroplane to World Trade Tower in New York  USA. In the foreword Rafael Alvarez writes,

"Hinc`s meditations upon the place where language becomes communion for the soul [which has no need for food - air perhaps - but demands a way to speak with us] moved to write this book."
Hinc wrote in the January 2010 issue of the Little Patuxent Review,

"She liked the taste of words ---parting her lips just so , she put them on her tongue one by one ----tasted them slowly, pressing them to the palate --waiting for them to dissolve into sweet bitterness that nourished her body and soul."

This novel is about Taher how he became a ferocious terrorist from an innocent child. Its first part is Prologue that tells the story of September 11, 2001. In it the novelist has described how they hickjacked the aeroplane. The novelist has also described the mental condition and psychology of Taher how he was hesitant to command the passengers.

"Taher examined his reflection in the lavatory mirror –long shadows cast upon in sharp strokes—and suddenly felt exhausted. First he raised his hand with the box cutter and looked at the reflection of it in the mirror, and then he looked at the box cutter itself. His palm opened, Small Knife, his thoughts rushed in again. Shapeless thought, he noticed . He closed his eyes again and felt the small space close to him.`` [pp.15-16]
Taher tried to control stewardness but the novelist has described his unprofessional behavior  in terms of a trained terrorist.In this part the novelist has narrated how the hickjackers terrorist tried to control the crew members and the passengers and there is atmosphere of doubt where they are going or what is going to happen next . From this sensational opening of the novel –the novelist takes this novel in flashback and tries to ease our sensations and terror.
The second part of the novel is entitled Journey into the Desert [Egypt March 1975]. In this part the novelist has described how Taher left his family and lived at Egypt for earning his bread.He always felt the memory of his parents there.
"He could remember his mother standing at the front door waving .AS she stepped forward, her dress billowed with thousands of soft waves. Then there was a quiet groan , but he couldn`t tell if it was his mother or may be the hinges on the door. He preferred to think it was the door , since her sadness would make him quiet for many days." [p33]
Here he became close to his cousin Ahmed. There happened one incident when one giant lizard attacked their tent in the night and how bravely Taher killed that giant with his knife.
"What if I injure him. Or if he should crawl toward his cousin .What if it takes too long ? What if I fail? What if I am not strong enough ? What if my aim is not good enough? What if I faint again?" [p.43]
In the next part 'Taher`s Birth [ Egypt March 1968]', the novelist has described the birth of Taher in March 11, 1968. Taher`s grandmother Rumaisa was excited to know about it. Omar, Tahir `s father was caring his second wife Laila and his first wife Fatima also cared Laila. In this part the novelist has described the anxiety and happiness of the family for the arrival of the new chield. Danuta is mastercraftsman in describing the psychology of every character minutely. In the part 'The House in Islamia [ Egypt 1975] Danuta has described the happiest years of Taher`s life took place in Islamia where he took birth. In the next part of the novel His Older Brother Ahmed [ Egypt October 1984] the novelist describes the education of Taher and his meeting his older brother Ahmed.
" Half sleep, Taher would observe his cousin in bewilderment , unable to decide if what he saw was real or just a dream , still haunting his eyes ."[p75] The novelist has also described the protest of the people towards west.The novelist describes how they were recruited for Afganistan to fight with Russia.The next part is entitled 'The War With Russia [ Pakistan and Afganistan December 1984]. Danuta in this part has presented the training for the terrorists . How innocent children are forced to become mujahideen.

"Take me away from here 'Salman's scream broke through the laughter of his comrades. It will hurt like hell, but after you will be able to move your knees again  Ahmed informed him, kneeling on the ground."[ p.99] The novelist then takes us little back more when she describes the life of little Omar in the part Little Omar. Omar claimed he was just thirteen. Through this part the novelist has raised the problem of terrorism how little children are forced for training by the fanatics. In the part The Escape [Afganistan March 1985] the novelist narrates the boredom of Tahir from violence and his escape.

The next part of the novel `Beautiful Life New York, Summer , 1995] decribes the beauty of Newyork. This novel is picturesque novel narrating the story of Tahir through different countries and situations. In the next part Shahid [Rafah Refugee Camp, Palestine, 1998] she describes how Taher met Naim who made him a bloody terrorist. The Training camp part describes Taher`s training in Afganistan in 1999. From flashback this novel again came to same situation from where it started.
The last part is Epilogue September 11, 2011. In this part Danuta explains how bloody terrorist made a plan to get success in their entry to the cockpit and collision with the World Trade Tower. Danuta looks to me a psychologist who has studied the psychology of Taher.

This is wonderful social novel about the problem of terrorism. This is not just the novel but a treatise on how to control the terrorism or what are the factors which creates  and forces terrorism. This novel does not crerate and malice but a sympathy towards the terrorist Taher who is the prey to his circumstances. I think Danuta has labored so hard to study Arabic words not to mention that English is her second language. It looked in every section of the novel that Danuta has lived and studied all those characters and towns she described in this novel. She has made a lively commentary with her word pictures. This novel is not just a novel but a gateway to study the problem of terrorism –a manifesto of peace and brotherhood. This novel should be amust read for the avid readers and lovers of English literature.

1, -. Danuta  Hinc : To Kill the Other, Tate Publication Enterprises Oklahoma , USA , 2010


More by :  Prof. Dr. Ram Sharma

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