،There is a jasmine in our home
،My mother is there
The rain is falling in the patio
:Ancestors standing on the doorsteps
This is our dire medium, our old sea
It is in the middle of nothing but geography
The flank of the wave still welcomes the slaves
But today they
:Volunteer in the boats of death screaming
The pirates, however, still sail
...In one way, only
My donkey lets down its ears, pants under me
Its wound exposed to the sun
Its female is in my field
:And in the tip of my stick
.Lies Its water… and its share of barley
Mohamed Ali Yousfi is a Tunisian writer and translator.
After obtaining his master’s degree in philosophy and social sciences, he completed his postgraduate studies in the Lebanese University. He publishes first in Tunis and in a later stage in the Middle East (Amman, Beirut and Damascus).
His first novel appeared in 1992: “The time for elves” (prize for best Arabic novel in 1992). His second novel “Sun tiles” was published five years later (prize for best novel of Tunisia 1997).
He also proposes an original interpretation of the texts concerning the Palestinian intifada in a book of literary criticism “The Alphabet of the stone”. But he mainly translates various authors in Arabic: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Miguel Angel Asturias, Alejo Carpentier, Shichiro Fukazawa, Álvaro Cepeda Samudio, Christine Bruet, Octavio Paz, an anthology of Greek poetry, biography of Nikos Kazantzakis, The Beginnings of the bourgeois philosophy of Max Horkheimer and Balzac and realism french Georg Lukács.
Edge of the earth-poetry
The Night of ancestors-poetry
A sixth woman for the senses-poetry
Thresholds of paradise-novel
Emil Cioran: Fragments chosen
Georges Bataille: Theory of religion
Dai Sijie: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Guy de Maupassant: From Tunis to Kairouan
Roger Icart: The French Revolution on the screen
Eric Leguèbe: A century of french cinema
Trails wind (choice of poems) by Pierre Emmanuel, Rene Char, Alain Bosquet and Eugene Guillevic
The role of literary censorship
By Jean Fontaine
The phenomenon is not new. The good writer takes every opportunity provided to him to deliver his message. The literary writing proposes so many possibilities leaving the author faced with the difficulty to choose one.
Mohamed Ali Yousfi, for over twenty years, has made a name in the world of translation (twelve books, mainly writers from Latin America), poetry (three collections careacterised by a pessimistic tone, wisdom has disappeared from history), the novel (two books: Le Temps des lutins( the time of goblin) ([Tawqît al-binkâ], London, 1992) and soleil de tuile (Sun tiles)
Born in Tunis in 1950, he lived the Palestinian issue closely, on the ground, then in Cyprus, before returning to his country where he worked as a journalist for foreign journals.
This year, his third novel, The Kingdom of Oukhaydhar ([Mamlakat al-Oukhaydhar], Damascus, Dâr al Talî `a l-Jadîda, 2001, p. 188), where the influence of his imagination is more apparent than in his first two novels.
After a presentation of characters, almost as a list, the first part takes place far from the kingdom of Oukhaydhar. The text, told by the eldest sister, consists of paragraphs, with subtitles, about a page, describing various aspects of the life of a child whose family moved from a building in Ariana to a villa Raouad. The second part, a little more consistent, takes place on the way to the kingdom. The third part, constituting half of the novel concerns the heart of the matter: Double personality of actors, fantastic stories. A few pages, finally, suppose what the true beginning would be like.
A first reading of this text puts the offers a sense of adventure, as can an adolescent imagine. All possible weird insects intervene in here. They are directly involved in the development of the story, each one with its own personality.
The second level, more symbolic, is the gestation of a child. Indeed,
The sister knows that her mother is pregnant and she tries to figure out what will be like his little brother. The kingdom is the mother's uterus. The child released by Caesarean section. But once born, all historical and social assumptions of his family disappear when it hits the wall of his own destiny.
A third reading level appears when reading between the lines. It is a stand on the news of the country. The author regularly intervenes in the text (p. 21, 23, 33, 95, 123, 187), as was the case in several novels last year. Though the story is somehow magical, even if it is consistent within itself, it can be used as a pretext to reflect on the evolution of this country. In addition to numerous allusions of direct observable facts today, the conquest of a palace, for example, just as in the novel by Hasan Nasr, brings us back to a more concrete reality.
Do these two examples imply the emergence of a new literary practice that uses what is already given in order to produce quality texts, despite all obstacles?
Jean Fontaine: Founder and former president of the review of the Institute "Belles Lettres Arabes" (Beautiful Arabic Letters) (IBLA)Tunis
Translated by Onsi Yousfi
By Kadhim Jihad
Muhammad 'Alî al-Yûsufî (born 1950) is a novelist, literary critic and translator. His novel Tawqît al-Binkâ ( "Goblin Time”, 1992) ends with discovering the absurdity of any emigration, but begins with a massive resumption of a happy time spent in the countryside of Tunisia, with his legendary grandfather and a grandmother. Fighting in the French army, the grandfather had offered chocolate to a girl who had just lost her father in the war, which earned him the love of her mother. In the neighborhood, lived a French man who refused to leave the village after the departure of the settlers. He “appropriated” common ground on the hill, which he cultivates and earns his leaving from. The land belongs to the grandfather of the narrator who lets the French have it, agreeing that the land belongs to him as long as he lives. Speaking Arabic well, the French man, calls for prayer from the top of the hill, where he does not risk to be heard by anyone but by reptiles and birds, which suits him by the way, because he is also the inventor of a language that enables him to communicate with them.
The grandmother mixes in her tenderness the living and the dead; her memory is refuses to register the deaths and disappearances. She cries and whines when she heard that Untel, who is dead actually decades ago, has been arrested for drunkenness. The young narrator Târiq understands therefore that if his grandmother allows herself for disorientation and throws into panic time, it is by accompanying his grandfather that he will have any chance of knowing the character of the land and the secrets of the plants. However, the old man tells him that he had come too late: when the fathers deny the earth and turn their back from her, the grandsons come only to "sniff the smell of grandfathers," namely what material they are made of and what stories they are capable of.
It is such a peace which is sacked in the passage to the capital, then to Paris, where the narrator will do the thirty-six jobs, feeling deprived forever of the pure poetry that he tasted in his childhood. The poetic writing is quite dense in this novel and it condenses even more in the following novel and becomes more allegorical. In Shams al-Qarâmîd ( "Sun tiles, here it is a proper noun, 1997), the narrator scrolls scenes of an idyllic childhood spent in northern Tunisia, surrounded by wonderful stories and reports eminently transparent with beings and space. But the departure, as in the previous novels, has become a fatality. Except here it is described in allegorical, punctuated by initiative ordeals where the main character, narrator of the story himself, understands that wanting to by-pass Lake Sanhûrî, he is on the wrong path and must turn back to try again. Since it requires him anyway to immerse himself in the waters of the lake, thing that he hasn’t done from the very beginning! Throughout this futile voyage, he is haunted by the memory of his brother who disappeared while naked, he advised him to wear more clothes and be aware of the snakes, which are mistaken for ropes abandoned on the road. "Everything we lose keep shining inside of us", seem to say one of the maxims scattered by the narrator through the novel and viaticum. It is these maxims that ensure that at the end of the day, despite his tragic failure, he has won his bet and has succeeded in crossing.
Kadhim Jihad: Writer and Iraqi translator
Translated by Onsi Yousfi