The Genre Guantánamo Made

Miriam Pensack in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Many great books have been written in prison. The works that comprise this troubling genre draw together the horrors of incarceration and the state of the outside world, merging the two distinct but inextricably linked spheres. Despite this convergence, when Mohamedou Ould Slahi scrawled pages beneath the dingy half-light of a Guantánamo prison cell, he could not have envisioned the reception his writings would meet beyond those concrete walls. His words went on to circulate in a world that, over the course of the 14 years he was held without charge, he was unsure he would ever see again.

By dint of the success of Slahi’s memoir, Guantánamo Diary, first published in 2015 while he was still imprisoned — and then by virtue of the recent Golden Globe–winning film The Mauritanian, based on his book — Slahi’s story and person have enjoyed a visibility unimaginable to the hundreds of men and children who have been illegally detained and tortured at the 45-square-mile base in eastern Cuba. “This is their story, too,” Slahi told me on a call from his home country of Mauritania, the same week his film was released for online streaming in the United States.

More here.