“The Darwinist,” by Diaa Jubaili

“The Darwinist,” by Diaa Jubaili; translated by Alexander Hong.
Short Story, Strange Horizons November 2017.

Part of Strange Horizons‘s special issue celebrating SFF from the Arab League community and diaspora.


Very little commentary on this piece so far; I’ll just quote a bit from Charles Payseur’s review:

This is a rather weird story about belief and about longing and about corruption. (…)
 The story sticks mostly to the “facts,” which is an interesting frame for a piece of speculative fiction. I think it enhances what happens, though, the impact of the ending, by building up a world that seems almost mundane, where the magic has been disproven, where the rejection of the ideals of communism and Darwinism have made room for a more religious fundamentalism that brings in tanks and the promise of war. (…)


What did you think? Read the story, and come discuss with us in the comments!

One thought on ““The Darwinist,” by Diaa Jubaili”

  1. The style of this piece is intriguing and unusual to me — the sparsity of dialogue; the frank, simple descriptions. I’d be very interested in reading other pieces by Jubaili, simply to understand whether this represents his style in general, or if this style is particular to this short piece. (The radio monologue in particular feels extremely stilted — I’m fairly certain that’s entirely deliberate, but I’m not sure what we’re supposed to take from that!)

    The story manages several vivid scenes in very little space; the beginning, of the mother sending her infant away, struck me in particular. The recurring desire for bananas is sweet and well-done — although I think I was sufficiently invested in the literal bananas, to the point where I think I glided past some important themes!

    There’s bananas as an object of desire (particularly, a mundane but unattainable desire — e.g., for freedom), and also monkeyhood as being both a sort of devolution of the human, and stirring up controversy over just how divinely-created mankind is. Each of these elements are interesting, but I’m not seeing quite how they link together; why they should be considered related to one another. I’ll probably reread again tomorrow with this in mind…

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