Jean Rolin’s Ormuz
Chapter Seven, ‘Asymmetrical Tactics,’ reads Jean Rolin’s Ormuz [Hormuz] (Prix de la langue française, 2013), a novel taking place in the Strait of Hormuz, gateway onto the Persian Gulf. In this oil-rich, high-stakes territory, center stage is taken by international commercial, political, and military positionings for power, while, behind the scenes, war and oil spills invisibly affect the local ecologies where people, animals, and plants (Rolin is attentive to all of these) carve out their lives. Rolin employs a set of asymmetrical literary tactics that allow him to re-center his chosen environments around their most peripheral elements in order to reveal the unseen underside of modernity’s decor. Idiosyncratic micro- and macro-features of his prose, from digressive sentence structure to eccentric plot premises and a dual narrative perspective allow Rolin’s novel to make room for expansions of various kinds. As such, the present-day territory he scrutinizes becomes a haunting confluence of places, times, and possibilities, revealing not only how the local and the global mutually involve one another, but also how the present moment retains its past and foretells its possible futures. This chapter reads Rolin in light of Edward Casey’s writings upon edges, environments, and the ‘topologics’ of place.
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