Marina Nemat, Author’s Note /”Leila”

“Knowledge brings responsibility. If we know that atrocities are being committed, we have to do something to stop   them. However, in the news, we read about arbitrary imprisonments, torture, executions, and genocides, yet we continue with our daily routines and turn our backs on reality. Why?

In the early 40s, if the silent majority had stood on the railroad tracks of Europe, millions of human beings would not have been murdered. But how can we compel the silent majority to stand on the railroad tracks of history?

The answer is literature. It is literature that carries the human experience, reaches our hearts, and makes us feel the pain of those who have been treated unjustly. Without literature and narrative, we would lose our identity as human beings and will dissolve in the darkness of time and our repeated mistakes that lead us from one preventable devastation to the next.

Our only hope is to tell our stories and to hear the ones of others. Atrocities leave their victims in a state of shock, so silence seems like a remedy when, in reality, it allows injustice to go on and even grow.

Literature allows the victim to become a survivor and stand up to the past to ensure a better future.”

1 Comment

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One response to “Marina Nemat, Author’s Note /”Leila”

  1. Stephen

    I wonder. As George Steiner never tires of pointing out, the Final Solution was carried out by perhaps the most well educated society in history to that point, replete with novelists, poets, and composers. Some who oversaw the death camps “listened to Schubert at night and operated the gas chambers the next morning.” And Mao Zedong (who murdered 70,000,000 in peacetime) was a pretty good poet. I think that the answer is more complex than literature, though you are right that literature preserves the voices of those whose voices a silenced by the brutalizers. Ms Nemat’s work is powerful and eloquent evidence of that.

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