Fisherman's Blues is a colorful and affecting portrait of an entire way of life, but it's also a report from the front lines of a small industry in the twilight of a struggle it never thought it would even face, much less lose ... There isn't any realistic light at the end of the story Badkhen tells. But readers can still be grateful for this graceful, perceptive account. Badkhen captures a way of life that certainly won't survive the century, and although the men, women, and children of Joal will lose the sea, readers will have the small comfort of visiting their world in the pages of this book.
Badkhen's distinct journalistic approach places her among and outside the populace, where she dances back and forth between separate witness and embraced participant. She offers an ever-widening knowledge of the culture ... Her poetic style liberates the reader from the familiar, straightforward quality of traditional reportage, but her work remains equally honest and arguably more compassionate. She manages to avoid critique, and rarely projects her Western morals on the habits and predilections of her comrades, instead allowing us to notice our own.
In powerful language shaped by the winds and tides, Badkhen not only describes the fishers’ lives but also imbues them with an energy that borders on the uncanny. What Badkhen understands is that exceptional writing—the kind that makes readers weep and fellow writers snap pens in admiring frustration—need not get in the way of truth or reality. In fact, it can enhance them, creating a kind of hyperreality more akin to thought than physical experience. Badkhen’s rhetorical dancing along the shore captures the essence of life on the Atlantic’s edge in a way no normal paragraph could ever hope to achieve; it is reality-as-poem, an eternal elegy for moments that are already dead and a society that will eventually die as well.