In ways both understood and yet to be discovered, the Arab Spring has changed us. All of us. Having finally tapped their personal and collective power through social media and community engagement, youth in the region are taking their creative, environmental and intellectual lives back into their own hands. But the unfolding of this process is not simple.
Nor is it linear, and it is this notion that informs Kapow! – a fast and frantic novel by Adam Thirlwell. Tracing twitter accounts, citizen anecdotes and other news sources during the Arab Spring uprisings, a London-based character attempts to put the events in perspective. As the narrative becomes more confused, so does the text, which takes on an unconventional visual form.
The book, according to the publishers Visual Editions, is “Set in the thick of the Arab Spring, [and] guided by the high-speed monologue of an unnamed narrator — over-doped, over-caffeinated, overweight — trying to make sense of this history in real time.”
Thirlwell corresponded with the book’s designer Firth Kerr before he even began to write the novel. They come up with a design that incorporates accordion-styled foldouts that permit 12 inch long blocks of text and unusual visual representations of the conceptual and narrative madness, including wild digressions, paragraphs flipped on their side and short blocks of text in corners.
“A clever, funny, and bitingly critical cultural commentary, it uses spinning digressions to tell the stories of a group of interconnected characters in London and Egypt, each transformed by the idea of revolution,” says Visual Editions, who add that “Kapow! asks readers to open and unfold pages, to follow text leaking in and out of paragraphs, while progressively becoming part of and lost within the narrator’s giddy digressions.”
Although such a reading experience may seem like desperately unrelaxing, Creative Review claims that it is actually easier to digest than it sounds. Fastco Design, meanwhile, claims that this may be the very first novel to accurately depict how we process information in the digital age.
To experience the Arab Spring uprisings again, but differently, please visit Visual Editions to purchase your very own copy of Kapow!
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