Moroccan Desire

Two autobiographical novels by Abdellah Taia are available in English in the US. The Salvation Army (2009) and An Arab Melancholia (2012) are both published by Semiotext(e) and distributed by The MIT Press.

The Salvation Army begins the story of a young boy growing up in a large, poor family in Salé near Rabat. He idolizes his older brother and is inspired by him to study French literature. His initial sexual experiences are with other Moroccan boys and men.

His meeting a visiting Swiss academic allows him opportunities to travel to Europe and a scholarship to study in Geneva.  His first days living abroad are filled with disappointment and emotional turmoil.


Abdellah’s story continues in An Arab Melancholia. He is now living in Paris pursuing his life goal of making movies. His career involves trips to the Middle East and he recounts painful incidents from his adolescence and a two-year relationship with a somewhat older Algerian man in France.

For additional background about the author, I recommend the PEN conversation available on YouTube.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

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