Abdellah Taïa -EVENT POSTPONED-
Wednesday, June 3, 2020, 7:00 p.m., City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
reading from his newly translated novel
A Country for Dying
translated by Emma Ramadan, published by Seven Stories Press
An exquisite novel of North Africans in Paris by "one of the most original and necessary voices in world literature."
Paris, Summer 2010.
Zahira is 40 years old, Moroccan, a prostitute, traumatized by her father's suicide decades prior, and in love with a man who no longer loves her.
Zannouba, Zahira's friend and protege, formerly known as Aziz, prepares for gender confirmation surgery and reflects on the reoccuring trauma of loss, including the loss of her pre-transition male persona.
Mojtaba is a gay Iranian revolutionary who, having fled to Paris, seeks refuge with Zahira for the month of Ramadan.
Meanwhile, Allal, Zahira's first love back in Morocco, travels to Paris to find Zahira.
Through swirling, perpendicular narratives, A Country for Dying follows the inner lives of emigrants as they contend with the space between their dreams and their realities, a schism of a postcolonial world where, as Abdellah Taïa writes, "So many people find themselves in the same situation. It is our destiny: To pay with our bodies for other people's future."
In 1973, ABDELLAH TAÏA was born in the public library of Rabat in Morocco, where his father was the janitor and where his family lived until he was two years old. Acclaimed as both a novelist and filmmaker, he writes in French and has published eight books now widely translated, including Le jour de roi, which was awarded the prestigious French Prix de Flore in 2010. An adaptation of his novel L'Armée du salut was his first feature film, released in 2014, screened at major festivals around the world, and hailed by the New York Times as giving "the Arab world its first on-screen gay protagonist." Abdellah Taïa made history in 2006 by coming out in his country, where homosexuality is illegal. His commitment to the defense of homosexuals in Muslim countries has made him one of the most prominent Arab writers of his generation—both "a literary transgressor and cultural paragon," according to Interview magazine. Taia has lived in Paris since 1998.
What has been said about the work of Abdellah Taïa
"A Country for Dying is a knife of a novel—short, sharp, and jagged. Abdellah Taïa ruthlessly uses that knife to cut away sentimental notions of love, romance, family, and nation. He exposes how colonization has shaped sexual desire, expression, and exploitation, and leaves us with a memorable, powerful work."