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KURT VONNEGUT, Life is no way to treat an animal, 2004, pencil on paper, 20.3 × 12.7 cm. Courtesy Old Florida Book Shop, Fort Lauderdale.

Raja’a Khalid on Kurt Vonnegut

The first Kurt Vonnegut book that I ever read was his memoir, A Man Without a Country (2005)—incidentally, the last title that he had promised to write and publish. It was 2006, and my father had picked up a copy from an airport. After reading only a few pages, he declared Vonnegut as an essential voice for our time, which was, back then, five years deep into the “War on Terror.” I was 21, fresh out of art school, possessing more than the requisite rage, but able to exhibit only bewilderment at what I had concluded to be humanity’s capacity for inhumanity. Becoming an adult meant reconciling irreconcilable human endeavors; we could write poetry about daffodils, for instance, and build unwieldy regimes of mendacity and barbarity. 

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