Advocate Bookshelf: Tiny Tomes
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
March 20 2012 2:00 AM ET
An Arab Melancholia by Abdella Taia ($15, MIT Press)
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. Indeed, Taia is the first openly gay autobiographical writer published in Morocco, though he lives in Paris now, and this translated novel, which follows 20 years of his life, is extraordinarily moving. What could feel overly political ("I had no more leniency when it came to the Arab world ... none for the Arabs and none for myself") is balanced by the earnest discussion of of growing up in a world where his identity is allowed in only through a cultural lens of shame and silence (as when he talks of his weight-loss obsession as a way to "distance myself from Javier, to destroy the body he once touched, to go back to being the old Abdellah, the Abdella he never knew"). Beautiful. MITPress.MIT.edu
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