Hey y’all. I’m trying something new and blogging from my phone. I just have no energy to get out my laptop to make everything pretty and symmetric and add links. So depending on when you read this post, it may be in a rough phase. I read A Cup of Rage by Raduan Nassar a couple of weeks ago as my second #manbookering read.
A Cup of Rage is a novella centered around the argument between male and female lovers. Something that I’ve noticed in the 4 MBI longlist books I’ve read is that the theme of sex is heavily reoccurring. This novella opens up with a fairly detailed description of the couples foreplay all the way up to actual intercourse, and it’s not particularly for the faint of heart. I’ve read some commentary praising MBI for being more sex positive and opening a space for erotica in awards. I’m not sure if it’s my prudish, American nature, but these stories just haven’t done it for me. A Cup of Rage in particular does not present this sexual encounter as particularly sex positive. The narration is mostly told in the male participants viewpoint. He speaks, both internally and externally, about the importance of the power that he has over his female companion. This is off putting, because some of the things he does during this encounter seem to be solely for his pleasure in basking in power rather than to give her any sort of pleasurable experience.
I think that this can be problematic, because this behavior is not painted in a negative way, but at some points the narrator’s masocistic behavior is even praised. Moving into where the majority of the “action” takes place is during the argument. The reader is given the impression that this make narrator is secluded in a country side estate. At brunch he discovers that ants have broken through his hedges, thus exposing him to the world. His female companion then criticizing his reaction to the break in his hedges and a fight ensues.
Nassar’s writing style is that which he readily shows the reader the tediousness and nuances that the fight takes on immediately. It’s even more interesting when you consider that this style is translated from its original language. This novella has several footnotes that help as context to the writing, and particularly the fight. I quickly grew bored while trying to read the chapter about the fight. Through the first 6 or 7 pages I understood the existential manifestation this crisis had caused in the male narrator, but after that the fight and the prose took a dark turn. I thought that the male narrator’s comments toward his companion were extremely sexist and hinged on the power he held over her. When he began to lose some of that power, he ultimately resorted to violence that led to the end of the chapter.
Although this book did not leave me with immediately terrible thoughts, upon further thought – the plot of this book was unpleasant. On Goodreads I believe that I gave this book 2 stars. I think the translation was good and in general the writing style was interesting, but honestly I wouldn’t recommend picking up this book.
Until Next Time World…