“Another Morocco: Selected Stories” by Abdellah Taia— Revelation and Concealment

Taia, Abdellah. “Another Morocco: Selected Stories”, (translated by Rachael Small), Semiotext(e) / Native Agents, 2017.

Revelation and Concealment

Amos Lassen

Abdellah Taia brings us stories of life in North Africa that deal with strategies of revelation and concealment. Taia is by the first openly gay writer to be published in Morocco.

In 2006, Taïa returned to his native Morocco to promote the Moroccan release of his second book, Le rouge du tarbouche ( The Red of the Fez). While on tour with the book, he was interviewed by a reporter for the French-Arab journal Tel Quel, who was intrigued by the themes of homosexuality she saw in his writing and Taïa, who had not publically come out was afraid of the repercussions for himself and his family because in his country, homosexuality continues to be outlawed. He agreed to do the interview and a subsequent profile, “Homosexuel envers et contre tous” (“Homosexual against All Odds”). This made him the first openly gay writer to be published in Morocco.

“Another Morocco” takes short stories from Taïa’s first two books, Mon Maroc ( My Morocco) and Le rouge du tarbouche, both of which had been published before the interview. In the stories we meet a young writer testing boundaries and “flirting with strategies of revelation and concealment.” These are tales of life in a working-class Moroccan family, of a maturing writer’s relationship with language and community, and of the many cities and works that have inspired him. The stories are eye opening and beautifully written. Taia writes with a reverence for the subaltern and for the strength of women and the disenfranchised. He writes of humanity and ‘the construction of the self against forces that would invalidate its very existence.’ His writings are therefore political.

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