LEILA ABOUZEID PDF

I spoke with Leila Abouzeid in her apartment in Agdal, a beautiful section of Rabat. She is a diminutive woman, perhaps not even five feet tall, but was colorfully dressed and expressed herself with intensity. She is now working on a collection of short stories, based on a collection published already in Beirut in Arabic, to be published in English by the University of Texas Press under the editing of Elizabeth Warnock Fernea. Abouzeid studied under Fernea at the University of Texas in Austin for two years, and they have continued a close personal and professional relationship since then. We first spoke about the issue of language among Moroccan writers. According to Abouzeid, those who choose to write in French the Francophone writers and those who write in Arabic are split into sharply divided camps, as are the intellectuals and literary critics who support each group.

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I spoke with Leila Abouzeid in her apartment in Agdal, a beautiful section of Rabat. She is a diminutive woman, perhaps not even five feet tall, but was colorfully dressed and expressed herself with intensity. She is now working on a collection of short stories, based on a collection published already in Beirut in Arabic, to be published in English by the University of Texas Press under the editing of Elizabeth Warnock Fernea.

Abouzeid studied under Fernea at the University of Texas in Austin for two years, and they have continued a close personal and professional relationship since then. We first spoke about the issue of language among Moroccan writers.

According to Abouzeid, those who choose to write in French the Francophone writers and those who write in Arabic are split into sharply divided camps, as are the intellectuals and literary critics who support each group. But still they tried to express their Moroccan culture — their way of thinking and being was Moroccan. French was and still is a foreign language. There is considerable discussion in some Moroccan literary circles about this issue. The Moroccan vernacular, or Darija, is only used in Moroccan plays, films, and some television shows.

Modern Standard Arabic MSA is the lingua franca of the Arabic world, the written form of the language used in the media and official discourse, which enables those in one Arab country to be understood in another. In every Arab country, the literature of the 20th century has been written primarily in MSA. There are movements in some countries, however, such as Egypt and Morocco, to use the colloquial form in fiction and poetry.

This process has been controversial since it is breaking with notions of appropriate discourse for Arabic literature. Abouzeid explained that she writes primarily in MSA.

If we wrote in the vernacular, neither Moroccans nor other Arabs would be able to read it. Then I keep it in the vernacular — but only in dialogue. And then I must make a footnote for Arab readers who are not Moroccan. I try to avoid the vernacular, except for maybe one or two percent of my writing. Moroccan writers face the challenge of a miniscule reading public. Why is the readership so small?

Abouzeid dismissed the economic argument — that most Moroccans cannot afford to buy books. Everyone smokes at least a pack of cigarettes a day. If they can afford this habit, they could buy books instead. Most of the people who could read books are sitting in cafes talking nonsense. People do not read.

They sit and drink coffee or tea and talk. In spite of this, Abouzeid has found a reading public for her books. Additionally, publishers in other countries, such as Egypt, want foreign writers to pay them for publishing their works. Thus Abouzeid has found it difficult to expand her audience to other Arab countries, though she has recently found a Lebanese publisher who will make this possible.

Abouzeid, like every Arab writer, wants to reach a wide Arab readership while expressing her own culture and mining that culture for her stories. What is it that makes the Moroccan culture distinctive to her? Men who had worked for the nationalist cause were often socialists; their wives were more religious, and because of that, more traditional. It is the spiritual journey of this divorced woman that interests Abouzeid. The scenes with the local sheikh show how the protagonist comes to terms with her catastrophe through a spiritual understanding.

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The Intriguing Literary Works of Leila Abouzeid

The acclaimed author, Leila Abouzeid, is considered to be a pioneer among her Moroccan contemporaries, mainly due to her choice to write in Arabic rather than in French. Her works have been translated into a number of languages, including English, Dutch, German and Urdu. She currently lives in Rabat, Morocco where she is in demand as a speaker on television and radio. She began her career as a TV and radio journalist.

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Leila Abouzeid

An awfully earnest coming-of-age novel from the Moroccan author who writes in Arabic of The Year of the Elephant Its heroine Aisha's progress from submissiveness to maturity and comparative Last Chapter. Leila Abouzeid.

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The Director and Other Stories from Morocco

Leila's radio show was unique because it was spoken in Arabic, as opposed to French. Almost every radio broadcast was done in French because the radio was a business, and French was used in business. As part of her program, she translated movie scripts into Arabic and did dramatic readings. One of these was the famous autobiography of Malcolm X.

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