The novel Utopia by Ahmed Towfik makes many animal references and imagery to portray the state of mankind in this dystopian not too distant future set in Egypt. It calls into question as the reader, what exactly it is that we think makes us human. In the beginning, before having a chance to read the novel, I had a very primal understanding or thinking about this question.
What makes us human?
Our wide range of complicated emotions combined with our ability to think critically and use a balance of feeling and judgement. Our desire. Our hope to go out and achieve great things. Our selfishness. Our compassion. Our ability to love and hate. After getting in to this novel, I then asked myself another question.
What makes someone not human?
and the answer is absolutely nothing. this is such a powerful book because it’s not commenting on a foreign notion that we are unfamiliar with, but one that has been prevalent all throughout history. The dehumanization of a people to justify their treatment or exclusion or even isolation. The mirror created by the two diferent voices created by the two narrators made one thing clear to me. The thing that makes you stop being human is when you stop respecting human life. Our respect for life is what keeps us human.