When Jean-Marc Ligny wrote this political thriller in 1998 he took up a formidable challenge: the portrayal of a young Algerian seeking vengeance, set in a France governed by Fascists. Situated in the near-distant future, this prophetic novel, which was already plausible at the end of the 20th century, is unquestionably nearer to reality than one would like.
While civil war is raging in Kabylia, a little village is attacked and its inhabitants massacred. A shepherd who has witnessed the massacre tells Djamal Saadi that his sister was raped and killed by a French mercenary called Max Tannart. From that moment on, Djamal can think only of vengeance. He leaves for France to find his sister’s killer.
In France, a National Party with Fascist inclinations is in power. Racism, mistrust and accusations are the order of the day. Militias viciously enforce the law and the media is controlled by the powers that be. In this country skin colour and ethnic type are enough to provoke hostile reactions which fan the flames of Djamal’s loathing and he leaves a blood-spattered trail as his revenge is accomplished.
Jean-Marc Ligny portrays a world without direction. Jihad is so much more than a story of vengeance; it is an arresting vision of a France where rich suburbs are guarded by private militias, where the media only broadcasts brain-numbing propaganda, where dominant individualism inevitably leads to hatred of others and where violence breeds violence in a never-ending spiral. This vision of the future is all the more terrifying because the novel takes place virtually in our time, except for the fact that its political context has magnified the flaws already present in our society. But Jean-Marc Ligny’s social science fiction is so convincingly close to our reality that it sends shivers down one’s spine.