Globalia, Book Review by Ananta Pancham
"Globalia"Jean Christophe Ruffin Gallimard 495 pages
Liberty, safety, prosperity are the master words which govern the life within Globalia, the company of the future which seems at first sight to have succeeded in offering to its inhabitants a propagandist "ideal democracy" by erasing the memories of the individuals within it, denying the possible existence of other societies, and fabricating a past in order to avoid the threat of conflict fostered by national sentimentalities. In short, the starting point for Ruffin's new novel is a rather obvious critique of Western civilization, with much emphasis placed on its consumerist drifts and liberalist tendencies. Indeed, Ruffin's "post face" indicates a general desire to amalgamate contemporary proclivities with the historical novel in the attempt to achieve such literary accolades as Huxley's A Brave New World, Bradbury's Farenheit 451, or Orwell's 1984. However, at the base of such revolutionary works, Ruffin's tale pales in comparison, but may well provide pleasant company for evenings in which one does not want to be galvanized by a more persuasive style of writing.
That is not to immediately say that Globalia has no merit; indeed, Ruffin exhibits a few original and somewhat astonishing ideas, some unexpected reversals of situation, and a conclusion which, even if it is a little tiresome, shows that the author was not entirely devoid of imagination. As a result, the novel does succeed in providing insight into the "not so ideal" world in which we live. Through the character Baikal, Globalia's primary nemesis who refuses the company's philosophies and dreams of a world in which freedom has another dimension, Ruffin directly challenges the modern standards of globalization, as well as accurately portrays society's critical lack of spirit, loss of direct effort, and the idea of a tolerance which more resembles indifference.
However, the assemblage of characters, and ultimately the realization of Ruffin's "message," is delivered with much less enthusiasm than required for a work of this kind; indeed, it has more become a novel "de genre" in which a more adventurous narrative becomes a quiet, languid incursion into the depths of progressive culture. Coupled with a general sense of boredom, flat attempts at humor, and language which is incapable of drawing the action upward, one cannot help but think that the author's ideas are inconclusive and thus unable to produce the effects intended by such avant-garde prose.