Excerpt from part of Chapter 1
In the other room, the boy and his brothers were asleep on the floor beside their mother. The father’s futon was empty, but traces of his body were visible on the sheets.
I tiptoed through their bodies, left the house and walked toward the fire.
They hit their drums. Bamboo sticks cut the hot air. Men wearing white clothes moved their bodies to the sound. They circled a man on his knees.
Women in veils looked like crows with metal beaks. One of them carried a plate of burning charcoal. Her right hand circulated the smoke, distributed it among the crowd.
Platters with bowls of rosewater, wild rue, dates around the fire.
The woman sprinkled rosewater on the sitting man’s face, rubbed ash on his forehead.
The boy’s father was standing among the other people. He held a chicken by its neck, a machete in his other hand.
The smell of wild rue and incense. Blood splashing, spilling into rosewater.
I sat on the sand, several metres away from the crowd.
They dipped their bamboo sticks in blood.
“People of the wind,” they sang.
They threw a white cloth over the sitting man’s head and struck their drums.
“When a body is sick,” they sang.
“When the soul is weak.”
The drums bit harder. A man blew into his pipe.
“The wind is waiting.”
“They ride on the winds.”
“They come from the sea.”
The man convulsed under the cloth. When he started to scream, the drums stopped. His scream made something thump inside my ears.
The boy’s father drew the cloth away from the man’s face, held the man’s head in both his hands, stared at his eyes. He pulled the man’s neck toward himself and hit him in the back with his stick.
“Leave,” the father shouted. “Leave us,” he whispered.
When the man stopped convulsing, the father caressed his head. The father walked around, looking into everybody’s eyes, sprinkling water on their faces.
“Beware of the south winds,” he said when he came by my side. He rubbed the palm of his hand over my head. His hand was cold. All my body felt cold with his touch.
He looked like a different person, not the same man who had served me fish hours back.
• • •
In the morning, light slanted against a corner of the room. The smell of fresh bread rose from the oven. I didn’t remember how I’d come back to bed.
The door was left open. I was thirsty, and the clay pot by my bedside was empty. I looked out the window at the landscape of burnt palms.
I opened my suitcase and looked through the books that I’d brought with me. I had ended up bringing The Book of the Wind when packing in a rush. I had found the copy in a used bookstore and hadn’t read it yet. It read like an encyclopedia of mental illnesses written in a tone shifting from that of an old medical text to a holy book, its pages yellow and disintegrating.
The boy’s mother was boiling water in a kettle on an oil stove. She was spreading dough for more bread.
Everybody else was gone.
I asked her where her husband was, but I couldn’t fully understand her response. I was hoping that I could ask the father about the night before. I had been so shocked at the time that I’d just watched. I doubted that I’d just dreamed it.
The mother poured me tea. I drank it before I dressed. No one had asked me for the remaining payment for the room. I counted the money and gave it to the mother before I left.
• • •
After the drought, men had moved in groups to work further south.
Oil rigs, refineries, steel. Lonely men away from their families, staring at screens.
More steel factories and refineries were shutting down, letting people go.
In the industrial towns, strikes every day. Tear gas and batons. Union leaders disappeared.
Emergency rooms flooded with diseases no one had heard of. Doctors sent patients home after failing to prescribe medicine.
The men went back to their villages, back to the times when medicine didn’t exist.
People of the wind. I’d heard of them from my grandmother. They healed diseases during their ceremonies. Sometimes even people from the cities would go to them.
The ceremony from last night had unsettled me. An unease remained in me since the father’s touch.

La description

South is a hallucinatory reimagination of life in a world under totalitarianism, and an individual’s quest for truth, agency, and understanding.

“A quiet meditation on imagination and reality, absence and presence, and the world around us. Lakghomi achieves a poetic and hypnotic effect with his tightly constructed, spare prose.” — Brandon Hobson, author of The Removed
“A Lynchian descent into the paranoia and alienation of totalitarianism, South is a haunting and dreamlike novel” — SHELF AWARENESS

B, a journalist, travels to the South of an unnamed desert country for a mysterious mission to write a report about the recent strikes on an offshore oil rig. From the beginning of his trip, he is faced with a cruel and broken landscape of drought and decay, superstitious believers of evil winds and spirits, and corrupt entities focused on manipulation and censorship. As he tries to defend himself against his unknown enemies, we learn about his father’s disappearance, his fading love with his wife, and his encounter with an unknown woman. A puzzle-like novel about totalitarianism, surveillance, alienation, and guilt that questions the forces that control us.



Disguised as a high concept page-turner akin to Enrique Vila-Matas and Paul Auster, Babak Lakghomi's slyly subversive and uncanny novel, South, is pure sublime. Packed full of complex silence, sex, deceit, erasure, captivity, dreamlife, memory, and yes, despair, it wastes no syllable while wading neck-deep into its own conspiracy, remembering just in time to come back up for air where others drown.

- Blake Butler, author of Aannex

A quiet meditation on imagination and reality, absence and presence, and the world around us. Lakghomi achieves a poetic and hypnotic effect with his tightly constructed, spare prose.

- Brandon Hobson, author of The Removed

As alluring as it is disquieting, with the strange and haunting visuals of an Andrei Tarkovsky film and the enigmatic feel of a novel by Italo Calvino.

- Amina Cain, author of A Horse at Night

Babak Lakghomi is a visionary artist and masterful guide into and beyond the labyrinth containing all the unnameable and undefinable problems of our universe, our world, our little lives, waking and dreaming. South is another brilliant novel from an author who astounds me.

- Bud Smith, author of Teenager

Evocative ... the fast pace will keep readers hooked.

- Publishers Weekly

A Lynchian descent into the paranoia and alienation of totalitarianism, South is a haunting and dreamlike novel.

- Shelf Awareness

Lakghomi has included so many layers in South, the effect is hallucinatory, a sublime trip, one full of terror and wonder.

- Exacting Clam

With a narrative style that is tight, almost skeletal in nature, South moves at a steady pace, growing increasingly distorted and claustrophobic ... every word counts.

- Roughghosts

With South, Lakghomi proves himself to be a master of the minimal. South uses sparseness to elevate and intensify suspense. It manages the mysterious and paranoid in such a way that what results is a literary page-turner, even when you want to linger and savour the language.

- Southwest Review

Thrilling and disquieting, South is a disorienting, cerebral novel that meditates on state surveillance.

- Foreword

South is an exceptional example of how the personal and political, when intimately entwined, make for a deeply compelling, even necessary read.

- Full Stop

South is a muted industrial thriller with mystic bits splashed throughout. Babak Lakghomi has taken the quick, minimal aspects of his early novella and extended them into another enigmatic, unnerving hypothetical.

- Heavy Feather Review

His portrait of a totalitarian nation-state, where the truth is fungible and selfhood is a luxury, is as surreal as it is nightmarish.

- Locus Magazine