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Shelves: historical , fiction , book , british , 20th-century Waiting For The Barbarians, J. First published in The story is narrated in the first person by the unnamed magistrate of a small colonial town that exists as the territorial frontier of "the Empire". Consequently, the Third Bureau conducts an expedition into the land beyond the frontier. Led by a sinister Colonel Joll, the Third Bureau captures a number of barbarians, brings them back to town, tortures them, kills some of them, and leaves for the capital in order to prepare a larger campaign.
The Magistrate has an intimate yet uncertain relationship with the girl. Eventually, he decides to take her back to her people. After a life-threatening trip through the barren land, during which they have sex, he succeeds in returning her—finally asking, to no avail, if she will stay with him—and returns to his own town. The Third Bureau soldiers have reappeared there and now arrest the Magistrate for having deserted his post and consorting with "the enemy".
Without much possibility of a trial during such emergency circumstances, the Magistrate remains in a locked cellar for an indefinite period, experiencing for the first time a near-complete lack of basic freedoms.
He finally acquires a key that allows him to leave the makeshift jail, but finds that he has no place to escape to and only spends his time outside the jail scavenging for scraps of food.
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