FIRST ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF AWARD-WINNING NOVEL BANNED IN IRAQ. In Ben Barka Lane we see the Morocco of the late 1960s through the eyes of a young political exile from Iraq—its beauty and misery, its unforgettable people. In this contemporary classic, Mahmoud Saeed offers us a unique portrait of a time and place, and a tale of the passion, politics, vengeance, and betrayal that take place there. "A landmark of the modern Arab novel," in the words of one critic, Ben Barka Lane is now, at last, in English translation, as compelling today as when first published.
Mahmoud Saeed, a prominent Iraqi novelist, has written more than 20 novels and short story collections. He was imprisoned several times and left Iraq in 1985 after the authorities banned the publication of some of his novels, including Ben Barka Lane. He is author-in-residence at DePaul University in Chicago.
"Originally published in Arabic in 1970, the novel's theme of survival from remnants of colonial misery, anguish and dejection, during a time of disorder from political change, is still current today, particularly following the Arab Spring. Mahmoud Saeed's tale of infatuation, reprisal and treachery, with evocative descriptions of North African scenes and life, entices us. Also, his writing style will remind readers of Camus' celebrated The Stranger. The wonderful lines, such as "Can you discover a forest the first time you walk through it?" will surely beguile readers into a second perusal. Highly recommended."
"Published in Iraq in 1970 and subsequently banned, Saeed's novel appears for the first time in English. In 1964, Iraqi political refugee Sharqi arrives in al-Mohammediya, Morocco, to teach high school and finds a country in turmoil, following the exile of leftist opposition leader Mehdi Ben Barka (for whom his street is named), and an oppressive government in the hands of King Hassan II...The rhythm and pace of the prose...gathers momentum as the characters come to life and the stakes of their ordinary decisions play out in a hyper-politicized society."