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Category Archive for 'Tunisia'

Tunisian author Habib Selmi, who has criticized the Arab novel in general because it “overwhelmingly emphasizes the social aspect,”* takes the opposite tack in his own novel, creating an intimate portrait of a years-long relationship between a French woman and a Tunisian man, seven years her senior. Selmi believes that “the novel should be a novel of the self as it intersects with its surroundings….[It] is not a sack full of occurrences and changes.”* Not surprisingly, then, his own novel deals almost exclusively with the thoughts of one of the partners in the relationship–Mahfouth, who has a doctorate in Arabic literature and who is currently working in a Parisian hotel and working part-time as a university lecturer. His lover, Marie-Claire, is a devoted but somewhat more free-wheeling partner who loved college but now works at the post office. Everything we learn of Marie-Claire, we discover through Mahfouth’s point of view, and when, after the initial bloom of love wears off, he becomes annoyed with her for doing or saying something he does not like, readers will have no problem understanding why she becomes annoyed with him in turn.

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