In January 2006, responding to pressure from the American press, the Department of Defense released three hundred and seventeen verbal trials from Guantanamo naval base, the prison camp used to house accused terrorists. From these documents comes Guantanamo by Frank Smith. Appropriating language from the interrogation minutes, Smith shapes these questions and answers into a literary world as faceless and recursive as the interrogations themselves, leading us away from the comfort of reason and the hope of resolution. In this bilingual edition, translated into English by Vanessa Place, Guantanamo unsettles the categories of law and poetry, innocence and guilt, translation and interpretation.
Praise for Guantanamo:
“A mutant offspring of Kafka, Lyotard, and William Carlos Williams, Frank Smith’s volume haunts the precincts of a world-class ethical blight. Poignant, disturbing, and skillfully translated by a leading voice in contemporary thought, Guantanamo remains the name of pernicious irresolution and offshore strike back. Our own rogue penal colony, Guantanamo becomes the site for provoking a cannonade of interrogatory language and testimonial breakdown. Facing the Military Tribunal’s relentless pursuit of unnerving detail, Detainee, in a sudden if unbearable ironic swerve, asks as a final plea to be deported to the United States—home ground of his dream world. As if all this torture had been merely an initiation, a hazing ritual souped up by the protocols of some border patrol bureaucracy. . .”
“[Vanessa] Place turns the stark French (provided en face) into inescapable English.”
“The antiseptic nature of the interview model, modded by Smith to read in bursts of verse, seem somehow at once menacing and whitewashed, like we are skirting around something so fucked it almost has no feeling on the page.”
—Blake Butler, Vice
“A composition with a strange status, which lays a finger on the heart of the links between humanity, justice and language.”