THE SPECTER OF A DECADE
In doing the cover for Lavie Tidhar‘s wonderfully complex novel Osama (very soon available through PS Publishing), I drew inspiration from a magnetic image created in 1951 by Gertrude Huston (the wife of New Direction’s publisher James Laughlin) for Julien Gracq’s A Dark Stranger, which I found on Will Schoffield’s blog.
I replaced the greco-roman classical silhouette with the more complex turban clad, bearded one of Osama Bin Laden, deciding later to add his eyes over the texture made up of debris (from a photo of one of the 1998 bombing sites in Africa) that fill this silhouette.
In Tidhar’s novel, Bin Laden is nothing but a fictional character in apulp paperback series, and the world hasn’t lived through 9/11, but what one reads in those pulp novels is pretty much what happened inour own dimension in the 1998 Dar es Salaam and Nairobi bombings. Maybe a pulp cover would have been more suitable, but I could not resist trying to assemble an iconic summary of the figure hiding behind the name: Osama.
Here’s what I believe to be the “dark” specter of our very sombre first decade of the new century and millenium, the very dark essence of our present days: not the late Bin Laden (a pathetic middle-aged sick man living in a well-to-do neighbourhood in a quiet town of Pakistan), nor even what may be known as Al Qaeda, but the fear, the willingness to accept brutality as a way of going forward in history, the loss of hope in the future.