State of EmergencyTravels in a Troubled World
State of Emergency
Travels in a Troubled World
Translated by Tony Crawford

This book ventures into the world beyond Lampedusa: the crisis belt that stretches from Kashmir across Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Arab world and beyond, to the borders and coasts of Europe. Celebrated author Navid Kermani reports from a region which is our immediate neighbour, despite all too often being depicted as remote and distant from our daily concerns. Kermani has visited the places where no CNN transmitter truck is parked and yet smouldering fires threaten world peace. In his widely praised, wonderfully agile and careful prose, he reports on NATO’s war in Afghanistan and the underside of globalization in India, on the civil war in Syria and the struggle of Shiites and Kurds against the ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq. He was the only Western reporter present at the suppression of the mass protests in Tehran, travelled with Sufis through Pakistan, talked with Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf, and observed the disastrous Mediterranean refugee route in Lampedusa.

Kermani’s gripping reports allow us to understand a world in turmoil, to share the suspense and the suffering of the people in it. As if by magic, he brings individual lives and situations to life so vividly that complex and seemingly distant problems of world politics suddenly appear crystal clear. Our world too lies beyond Lampedusa.

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  • February 2018
  • 304 pages
  • 140 x 210 mm / 6 x 8 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509514700
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  • 9781509514717
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  • 9781509514748
Table of Contents

Cairo, December 2006
Paradise in a State of Emergency

Kashmir, October 2007

Houseboat 1

In the City

Houseboat 2

Politicians 1–4


Houseboat 3

The Shrine

Houseboat 4

In the Countryside

Houseboat 5

The Mother

Houseboat 6

Ahad Baba

In Kashmir, Far Away from Kashmir

Between Agra and Delhi, September 2007

Lumpenproletariat in Formation

Why Complain?

They Want Land

Expulsion as Industrial Development Policy

The Sky and the Ground

Ram Paydiri Doesn’t Understand
The Laboratory

Gujarat, October 2007

An Idol

On the Rubbish Tip

Into the Centre

Social Praxis

India’s Future

Where Even the Atheists Pray

The Pit
A Visit to the Sufis

Pakistan, February 2012

Rhythm of God

War Against Themselves

The Lovers’ Tomb

O Papa, Protect Me

In the Mansion District

The Poor People’s Peace

Quiet, Cleanliness and Order

The Feast

The Cosmic Order
Bleak Normality

Afghanistan I, December 2006

People Don’t Change Much

Really Crazy

Two British Commanders

Humanitarian Mission

In Kabul

Where Is the Progress?

Master Tamim

The New Motorway

American Headquarters

Visit to the Passport Office

Cola in the Dark
The Limits of Reporting

Afghanistan II, September 11, 2011

Cemetery 1

Walls in Front of Walls


Mazar-e Sharif

The Best Place in Town

In the Countryside

In the Panjshir Valley

In the South

Peace Conference

Tribal Leaders 1


Tribal Leaders 2

The Limits of Reporting

Cemetery 2
The Uprising

Tehran, June 2009

Chance Companions





Back to Saturday


Early Monday
When You See the Black Flags

Iraq, September 2014

I. Najaf: In the Heart of the Shia

Ubiquity of Death

A Dangerous Topic

A Different Shia

With Swordlike Index Finger

Grand Ayatollah Sistani’s Message

II. Baghdad: The Future Is Past

A Thirty Years’ War and More

A Hookah with Goethe and Hölderlin

Fog of Melancholy

Right Out of Ali Baba

The Last Christian

A Warrior

III. Kurdistan: The War for Our World Too

Literally Overnight

What For?

To the Front

The General
The Entrance to Hell

Syria, September 2012

The Centre and the Margins

Artists of the Revolution

Two Views

Outsourcing Terror

The Feast of St Elian

At the Tomb of Ibn Arabi

Thinking without Gradations

The Intensive Care Unit

Those Who Can Read, Let Them Read
We Too Love Life

Palestine, April 2005

In Search of Palestine

Without Hope

The Wall Against Empathy

My Capitulation

They Are Human Beings
Life as What It Is

Lampedusa, September 2008

Sunday Outing



The Previous Mayor

The Camp

The New Mayor

Night Again

With or Without Approval

Cairo, October 2012

Editorial Note

About the Author

Navid Kermani is a writer and scholar who lives in Cologne, Germany. He has received numerous accolades for his literary and academic work, including the 2015 Peace Prize of the German Publishers’ Association, Germany’s most prestigious cultural award.

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‘Those who want to see the day-to-day lives of human beings in the crisis regions of the Middle East – lives that don’t make the news – should read Navid Kermani’s sensitive reporting. Reports you won’t soon forget.’

‘Kermani’s well-researched and sensitive book reveals how violence is born. It also reminds us that far away victims and perpetrators have one thing in common: they’re human beings, just like us.'
Süddeutsche Zeitung

‘Intense, colourful, emotional, subjective.’
Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung

‘Among the most thoughtful intellectual voices in Germany today.’
The New York Review of Books

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