In Tangier

Overview

“As I read Choukri’s notes, I saw and heard Jean Genet as clearly as if I had been watching a film of him. To achieve such precision simply by reporting what happened and what was said, one must have a rare clarity of vision.”—From William Burroughs’ introduction to Jean Genet in Tangier

Tangier, “the most extraordinary and mysterious city in the world,” according to Mohamed Choukri, was a haven for many Western writers in the early twentieth century. Paul Bowles, Jean Genet, ...

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Overview

“As I read Choukri’s notes, I saw and heard Jean Genet as clearly as if I had been watching a film of him. To achieve such precision simply by reporting what happened and what was said, one must have a rare clarity of vision.”—From William Burroughs’ introduction to Jean Genet in Tangier

Tangier, “the most extraordinary and mysterious city in the world,” according to Mohamed Choukri, was a haven for many Western writers in the early twentieth century. Paul Bowles, Jean Genet, and Tennessee Williams all spent time there, and all were befriended by Choukri.

Collected here together for the first time in English are Choukri’s delightful recollections of these encounters, offering a truly fresh insight into the lives of these cult figures.

The sights and sounds of 1970s Tangier are brought vividly alive, as are the larger-than-life characters of these extraordinary men, through ordinary everyday events.

‘What Yacoubi would really like is a complete harem,’ I said.
We laughed.
‘One handsome boy is enough for me,’ said Tennessee. ‘A boy who just happens by.’
‘So you don’t want a harem?’ I said.
‘No. Harems are always very tiring. They’re no fun.’

Mohamed Choukri (1935–2003) is one of North Africa’s most controversial and widely read authors. After a childhood of poverty and petty crime, Choukri learned to read and write at the age of twenty. He then became a teacher and writer, finally being awarded the chair of Arabic literature at Ibn Batuta College in Tangier. His works include For Bread Alone and Streetwise (both available from Telegram).

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Choukri, who grew up illiterate before becoming one of Morocco's seminal writers, shares three distinctive portraits with progressive degrees of intimacy. Genet is often observed from a distance or recollected in short bits of passing conversation and these reprinted journal entries speak most to Choukri's own aspirations of becoming a writer. Williams's stint in Tangier in 1973 included countless languid café afternoons and dinner parties; the two writers were friends and these amicable passages provide satisfying windows of "real" life for a literary figure as mythic as Williams. But it is Bowles (who translated the first two sections of this book as well as Choukri's For Bread Alone) who comes most to life with depth and honesty in a portrait that is not always flattering (it is here too that the city of Tangiers becomes another vibrant character): "Paul Bowles loves Morocco, but does not really like Moroccans," Choukri reflects. Though it is clear from their years together that Bowles did indeed like Choukri; the tenderness with which they both age has less to do the veneer of fame than of men aware of their own mortality. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781846590610
  • Publisher: Telegram Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mohamed Choukri (1935-2003) is one of North Africa's most controversial and widely read authors. After a childhood of poverty and petty crime, Choukri learned how to read and write at the age of twenty. He then became a teacher and writer, finally being awarded the chair of Arabic Literature at Ibn Batuta College in Tangier.

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