As 2020 Unravels, Grab a Book…

As this year unravels, as the stories of tragedy and mayhem stack themselves up one atop the other in the cementing pressure of misery which we will carry with us, oh probably forever, I was thinking about the last 15 years – my travels, my travails, and my writings. I have always wandered and worked the lost places – places on the fringes, entropy eating away at the possibilities of tomorrow. And slowly, I’ve seen as the gangrene crawls up the appendages to the epicenter, places I thought safe. My novels reflect this – and their protagonists’ stories, I’ve noticed, never end well. How could they, those who dwell in the peripheries. So, if you haven’t already, join me – my work, my travels, my wanderings — my life. What cost me trials and tribulations and heartache would only cost you a few cents, a few dollars. To live vicariously the lives of those who fought the mayhem, its what I have written for. Without further ado…


Explore the attempt of a few tireless adventurers to find a place safe for themselves, General Ulises Harrington and his efforts to see the subterfuge extended, to safeguard civilization for the future, and how (and why) he ultimately fails.

Charles Agwok was born in a refugee camp in Uganda. With few choices for the future, his only option was an anonymous existence fading away under the African sun, or a life of crime. A life which led him to that of a soldier, a commander and a warlord in the Lord’s Resistance Army. But that life brought no freedom; and escape? Back to the camps.

Aliuf Ag Albachar was born a Tuareg, from the lost desert lands of the Sahara. He did not want to become a jihadi, not really. A thoughtful, smart lad born of nobility. But a chance encounter with a young Fulani boy, a trip to Marrakesh sees him become a Qadi, an islamic judge and a final arbiter of sharia in occupied Timbuktu. Until something infinitely worse came along, and he discovered that meaning can be found, even kneeling upon the hard sand of Sankore Place at the end of it all.

In the San Porfirio series, Pancho – a young Venezuelan activist looking for a life in liberty runs afoul of the socialists, and ends up in prison where – for years – he contemplates the disaster raging around him. Released to wander the wasteland, he can only look for his old friend, along paths dark and long abandoned in the hope of finding meaning and answers to the violence. Answers he does find, in the end, after the violence burns itself out.

In this, my first play a political prisoner – leader of the September 7th movement – goes on trial before the judges of a totalitarian state determined to quash any resistance. In his final defense, he gives the reasons why – though he was a prisoner – he was also an accomplice and artifice of his own destruction.

I don’t think I meant to make all my stories be that of resistance, sadness and ultimate defeat. But, as good writers are told – write what you know… and more importantly, write who you are

So, pick up a copy. Pour a glass of wine, or a cold beer or a hot green tea, sit in your favorite chair and give me a chance to enthrall you!! Besides, what else do you have to do, locked down in our homes as our terrible 2020 unravels…

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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