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Arab Melancholia

by Abdellah Taia Semiotext(e)
Pub Date:
03/2012
ISBN:
9781584351115
Format:
Pbk 144 pages
Price:
AU$39.99 NZ$40.86
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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Salé, near Rabat. The mid 1980s. A lower-class teenager is running until he’s out of breath. He’s running after his dream, his dream to become a movie director. He’s running after the Egyptian movie star, Souad Hosni, who’s out there somewhere, miles away from this neighborhood--which is a place the teenager both loves and hates, the home at which he is not at home, an environment that will only allow him his identity through the cultural lens of shame and silence. Running is the only way he can stand up to the violence that is his Morocco.

Irresistibly charming, angry, and wry, this autobiographical novel traces the emergence of Abdellah Taïa’s identity as an openly gay Arab man living between cultures. The book spans twenty years, moving from Salé, to Paris, to Cairo. Part incantation, part polemic, and part love letter, this extraordinary novel creates a new world where the self is effaced by desire and love, and writing is always an act of discovery.

I had to rediscover who I was. And that’s why I left the apartment. . . . And there I was, right in the heart of the Arab world, a world that never tired of making the same mistakes over and over. . . . I had no more leniency when it came to the Arab world. . . None for the Arabs and none for myself. I suddenly saw things with merciless lucidity. . . .
--An Arab Melancholia

This slim autobiographical novel by an openly gay man who lives between cultures in Egypt and France is the kind of wry, reflective narrative prose that feels like poetry. Beautiful.

'Advocate
Abdellah Taïa (born in 1973) is the author of six novels, including Salvation Army and An Arab Melancholia, both published by Semiotext(e), and Infidels. His novel Le jour du roi, about the death of Morocco's King Hassan II, won the 2010 Prix de Flore. He also directed and wrote the screenplay for the 2013 film adaptation of Salvation Army.