Literary Fiction

Kafka in Tangier

Category:Literary Fiction

Author:Mohammed Said Hjiouij

  • Publisher: Agora Publishing
  • Publication Date: February 6, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 87
  • ISBN-10: 9920570281
  • ISBN-13: 978-9920570282

Kafka in Tangier by Mohammed Said Hjiouij is a mesmerizing novella that blends elements of magical realism, postmodernism, and existential dread into a haunting exploration of the human condition. Set in Tangier, the story follows Jawad Al-Idrisi, a teacher who wakes up one morning transformed into a monstrous creature, mirroring the character of Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis. Hjiouij weaves together multiple perspectives, from Jawad's viewpoint to his mother's determined efforts to free him, his father's hidden past, and his sister's diary entries. Through these diverse perspectives, readers gain a complete understanding of events and the societal and familial pressures faced by the characters.

The scenes are emotionally rich and, at times, disturbing, like when Jawad awakens to his horrifying transformation, realizing that he has become a hairy, deformed creature. His family's shock and horror, coupled with his wife's abandonment, highlight the fragility of relationships and the protagonist's sense of alienation from society. Another poignant moment arises when Jawad's mother, Fatima, seeks help from a faqih to cure her son's affliction. Despite her efforts, she ultimately resigns to fate, realizing she cannot reverse what has been done. This scene underscores themes of guilt, redemption, and the human capacity for both compassion and cruelty. A particularly striking scene is when Jawad indulges in primal behavior, consuming food with his bare hands until he vomits and then urinates into a jug, demonstrating a regression into animalistic instincts. His perverse delight in the chaos and violence in the streets of Tangier adds to the surreal atmosphere of the narrative. Overall, Kafka in Tangier is a thought-provoking and immersive journey that lingers in the mind long after the final page is turned. Through vivid imagery, introspective narration, and emotionally rich scenes, Hjiouij crafts a compelling narrative that explores themes of identity, alienation, and the search for meaning in a chaotic world. This novella will surely appeal to fans of Kafka's work and those interested in modern Arab culture. 

Reviewed By: Eugene Lasha

Reviewed Date: May 11, 2024

Category: Literary Fiction