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An Arab Melancholia

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  245 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
I had to rediscover who I was. And that's why I left the apartment.... And there I was, right in the heart of the Arab world, a world that never tired of making the same mistakes over and over.... I had no more leniency when it came to the Arab world... None for the Arabs and none for myself. I suddenly saw things with merciless lucidity....-- An Arab Melancholia

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Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 2012 by Semiotext(e) (first published 2008)
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Jun 28, 2016 Bjorn rated it really liked it
Shelves: morocco
Javier was there, in my body, in my skin, instead of me. I no longer knew what he wanted from me. I no longer knew what I wanted from him.
I wasn't myself anymore.
I had to find myself again. And to do that I let myself get lost on the streets of Cairo.

Taïa's short autobiographical novel takes you from growing up in Morocco, knowing he's interested in other boys who only want him back if they get to call him a girl, to life in exile in Paris, to movie shoots in Cairo (film, of course, is about sh
Nov 02, 2012 Benjamin rated it liked it
"I was running. Fast, fast. Fast, fast." An Arab Melancholia is a sweetly written exposition of being gay in the Arab world. It goes a bit further actually, and to pigeon-hole it as a gay novel would be a bit unfair, but this is what it is presented as and it does frame the novel in a particular way, which I talk about later on. Autobiographical and written as a stream-of-consciousness with little in the way of a firm chronological narrative, the time and location of the novel is sometimes a ...more
Jan 11, 2013 Jacob rated it liked it
As the previous reviewer pointed out there is no triumph in this book. This is not a classic love story or a traditional tale of the protagonist overcoming obstacles to come into himself. All you will find is honesty and madness in equal measure This is a beautifully written book that shocked me with its naked emotions, conveyed in poetic words, filtered through a layer of mysticism. I enjoyed the read, even if I didn't always agree with the way the narrator acted, behaved or thought - I wanted ...more
Robert Sheppard
May 27, 2013 Robert Sheppard rated it really liked it

Robert Sheppard‘s insight:

World Literature Forum recommends looking into the works of Moroccan novelist Abdellah Taïa, including his recent Une mélancolie arabe, the story of a vulnerable young man whose sexual life stretching from Morocco to France to the world of Egyptian cinema is tinged with an impulse of self-destruction which nonetheless may open latent possibilities o
"Il futuro eravamo io e te, insieme, ventre contro ventre, cuore a cuore, in uno stesso respiro."

Pura poesia.
Nei quattro racconti dal forte sapore autobiografico l'autore si fa a pezzi e si regala al lettore, ogni parte connessa alla successiva da una morte scampata e un amore sfiorito. E l'illusione, ogni volta, di rinascere più forte, salvo poi ricadere negli stessi errori, perché non è mai possibile uscire dall'amore.
Un libricino piccolo, leggero, eppure capace di espandersi fino ad abbraccia
Dec 02, 2012 Joseph rated it really liked it
the author captured a damned good memoir. I enjoyed its short vignettes from different aspects of his life. I think he captured the longing that many experience when looking for love. it's incredibly raw, and is brutally honest. I believe that it crosses many cultural/racial/sexual boundaries and aptly embodies nostalgia. the author took a great stride in adding to glbt literature of other (albeit a small amount) queer, Arab authors.
May 02, 2016 Denis rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nenette87 Piccolanay
J'ai beaucoup apprécié ce tout petit roman autobiographique. Il se lit vite, est très bien écrit et très poétique malgré le sérieux du sujet traité.
Abdellah Taïa est un jeune homosexuel qui est né et a grandi au Maroc.
Il nous explique qu'il a rapidement su qu'il était homosexuel : déjà enfant dans les rues de sa ville natale du Maroc, les enfants le désignaient comme "Léïlah". Il échappe de peu à un viol collectif de la part des gamins des quartiers voisins. Une jeunesse difficile...
Sara Comuzzo
Apr 28, 2014 Sara Comuzzo rated it it was amazing
una narrazione in prima persona, una parte di biografia, la storia di sè, il lavoro, i viaggi, l'amore. soprattutto l'amore che porta la morte. la morte di una parte di sè, di quella che vorremmo uccidere quando l'amore finisce, quando si è stancato, quando non siamo ricambiati. a volte la storia è immersa nella violenza, il tema principale è l'amore unilaterale che, omosessuale, eterosessuale o meno, fa sempre male. lo sentiamo. ognuno di noi ne ha le cicatrici sulla pelle.

la scrittura di Taia
Sara Comuzzo
Jan 18, 2014 Sara Comuzzo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
una narrazione in prima persona, una parte di biografia, la storia di sè, il lavoro, i viaggi, l'amore. soprattutto l'amore che porta la morte. la morte di una parte di sè, di quella che vorremmo uccidere quando l'amore finisce, quando si è stancato, quando non siamo ricambiati. a volte la storia è immersa nella violenza, il tema principale è l'amore unilaterale che, omosessuale, eterosessuale o meno, fa sempre male. lo sentiamo. ognuno di noi ne ha le cicatrici sulla pelle.

la scrittura di Taia
Apr 11, 2014 Tucker rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
From the author's bio: "Abdellah Taïa (b. 1973) is the first openly gay autobiographical writer published in Morocco. Though Moroccan, he lives in Paris."

The story begins with adolescent Arab boys who are sexual with each other, and some older boys intend to rape the 12-year-old narrator, who isn't all that averse to their intentions. When he grows up, he has trouble finding the relationship he wants: something more than sex, but not clingy and codependent and closed off to the world.

He describe
Brandon Leighton
Apr 06, 2012 Brandon Leighton rated it really liked it
Taia, a gay man born and raised in Morocco, writes about liberation from his culture and religion and then his ultimate need to be liberated from his own personal demons. What I liked best about this book is that, by the end, you are not really focused on the culture and the religion that stifled his sexuality. His experiences transcend culture, religion, and sexuality. He writes about the difficulty of overcoming unrequited love and the need for spiritual re-birth. Readers of any background can ...more
Oct 01, 2013 Michael rated it it was ok
Disappointed is how I feel about this book. I imagined having found a writer I would love with an interesting, beautiful style. Perhaps it is the fault of the translator, but the writing is passive and simple, the passionate diary style burdened by repetitive phrases and teenage lack of focus. It reads like Anne Rice as a young, homosexual man with an overlarge sense of self importance despite a dull self hatred.
Sep 16, 2012 Donald rated it liked it
Very stream of consciousness. Opens with Moroccan narrator at age 12. He admits his homosexual feelings but knows that it is dangerous in his society. Encounters with young thuds leave a mark. Later he finds himself as a writer living in Paris. He traces his inability to find a steady relationship back to his adolescence.
World Literature Today
"Compared to Taïa’s previous autobiographical texts, An Arab Melancholia is somewhat more innovative in terms of narrative structure but covers similar thematic terrain." - Edward Ousselin, Western Washington University

This book was reviewed in the January 2013 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full review by visiting our website:
K's Bognoter
Nyoversat, marokkansk roman af Abdellah Taïa om forelskelser, forvildelser og fortvivlelser som arabisk bøsse har fine passager, men er det meste af vejen ikke så interessant.

Læs hele anmeldelsen her:
Apr 16, 2012 Beth rated it it was ok
This book will be remembered as groundbreaking for its author's bravery as the "first openly gay autobiographical writer published in Morocco," but unfortunately the quality of content is weak (though might at least be more poetic in the original French) and comes across as self-indulgent.
Jul 25, 2016 Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Autobiographical narration of the life of the author, from the childhood when he almost got raped, to his adulthood and all the stories that marked his gay love life. The writing is essential, poignant.
David Swatling
Nov 24, 2012 David Swatling rated it liked it
Complex, poetic, episodic, autobiographical, important. But I was left with a feeling of wanting to like it more than I did; I'm not entirely certain why. Wondered if translation did the original French justice?
A fictionalized? memoir more about love lost and coming to terms with that loss than about the aspect that the love is a homosexual love. Taia moves between setting in Morocco, Paris and Cairo in this account.
Hajer Hajer
L'écriture est fluide et légère, les chapitres courts, ce qui fait que le livre se lit à une allure prodigieuse mais je trouve que l'histoire est banale en quelque sorte..
Jul 22, 2013 Clifton rated it it was amazing
A valuable revelation of one gay Arab's experience of love with all its rewards, disappointments, and growth potential, spiritually and emotionally.
Oct 07, 2014 Matthew rated it liked it
Finally finished this short novel. Solemn and tragic, an introspective look at love straddled between two worlds.
Fanny rated it liked it
Sep 01, 2012
Gillik rated it liked it
Apr 21, 2015
أ' مل
أ' مل rated it did not like it
Dec 07, 2013
Mathieu rated it really liked it
Oct 15, 2013
Ryan Grubbs
Ryan Grubbs rated it liked it
May 07, 2013
Elise Karlsson
Elise Karlsson rated it really liked it
Nov 03, 2016
Ida Jonsson
Ida Jonsson rated it really liked it
Sep 05, 2016
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Abdellah Taïa is a young Moroccan writer born in Salé in 1973. He grew up in a neighborhood called “Hay Salam” located between Salé and Rabat, where his father Mohammed works at the General Library of the capital. His mother M’Barka, an illiterate housewife, gives so much meaning to his days and accompanies his sleep with her nocturnal melodies. This son of a working-class district and second ...more
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