Dreams Extending their Fingers by Fatma Ben Mahmoud & Abdallah Al Mouttaqi. Reviewed by Abdeddayem Sallami.

It gives me great pleasure and much excitement to announce to you that Fatma Ben Mahmoud and Abdallah Al Mouttaqi have published a collaborative short story collection, called Dreams Extending their Fingers.

The following article is a review of the book. It is written by Abdeddayem Sallami in such a poetic language. I tried my best to translate it into English for your enjoyment, dear readers.


Dreams Extending their Fingers Book Cover

Dreams Extending their Fingers or the Smashing of the Imagined on the Wall of Reality.

Abdeddayem Sallami

A book titled Dreams Extending their Fingers was published by Dar El Watan-Editions and Distributions in Morocco by the Moroccan creator Abdallah Al Mouttaqi, and the Tunisian creator Fatma Ben Mahmoud. The book is in the form of open texts that draw upon the old heritage, and its characters are intertextualised with One Thousand and One Nights through a textual area covering 115 pages of medium size. The cover image is a painting by the artist Slimane Drissi.

The book forcibly captures you, and its authors, Fatma Ben Mahmoud and Abdallah Al Mouttaqi shake you with the eloquent language. The language in their stories eats its time as if it is at the doorstep of a great hunger. It slowly nibbles at its parts, and chews it with the molars of its verbs. When the time becomes soft, and its waters flow, it begins irrigating with them its stories in order for its roots to expand further in the land of the Arab narration.

When it eats its time, language revives its ability of calling for its narrative bearers so that we can discover old tales in a new form and through it the human being’s questions become open to the civilisational and the social sacredness, divulging its enigma, and voraciously deconstructing the chains of its logic. Then the slyness of imagination comes. So the female begets her master out of her tenderest ribs straightening the deviation of his desires through the slyness of her desires. The throne of the male bends in front of the power of seduction, drinking in the softness of the story’s betrayals, and wanting that it never ends as if its egos derail the ethics of antiquated narration or as if it was

“anxiously spending its day.

When will the night shine with its darkness

to relax on the story’s bed

and…and the pillows of dream?”

Dreams Extending their Fingers is not but a festival of scenes that hide behind the oldness of its actors’ masks to unearth reality, and reveal its vices through stories that are jointed together in an artistic embrace that is about to be upgraded to the level of a novel in terms of the characters’ and the place’s unity, and the unity of the narrator’s fear of the meaning’s sting and the trembling of its creation:

“Every night she is used to strip the stories

off its clothes

so the meaning… remained trembling.”

The book is a battlefield in which we are about to smell the dust of the female’s consciousness attacking the idol of her opponent, overcoming storms. We are about to hear even the noise of the retreat of Shahryar’s consciousness and its smash against the silk of the Scheherazadian storytelling, in a kind of a soft attack:

“At night

the king becomes a captive of her stories,

and she becomes the mistress.. of the meaning.”

In this war, the power of the story becomes a substitute for the power of the sword, the agents of death in the story become heralds of rightness in real life, and feminisation becomes the key of the story, declaring its sovereignty over it, and through this and that the narrator does not hide his bewilderment between his retreat from the story and pulling the reader to it through the chains of light sentences with fertile grammatical relations in which they  settle for the pillar of speech without the need for complements which only occur in rare instances. This bestows on them the ability to enmesh the reader in the trap of their rhythms that are represented by cyclical and diametrical dichotomies out of which they conceal the desire of killing, and the revelation of the desire of revival. Besides, the female’s influence is aimed at the male’s passivity, the shining night lights the darkness of the day, and the past is present in the story and the present goes away.

The interaction of these dichotomies undoubtedly formed the focal point of storytelling in the book, and represented a great echo of the smash of the reality’s pottery against the wall of reality. It is a smash through which the narration is divided into bits of scenes. Each bit is searching for its soul in the dough of the other which makes the blood of the meaning scatter in the stories. Thus, reading Dreams Extending their Fingers becomes a new moulding of the body of that meaning, and a dutiful revenge for the males’ invasions.

Originally appeared in Alarabonline 18/05/2012 by Abdeddayem Sallami

You can read the original text in Arabic here.

Translated from Arabic by Ali Znaidi.


About aliznaidi

Ali Znaidi lives in Redeyef, Tunisia. He graduated with a BA in Anglo-American Studies in 2002. He teaches English at Tunisian public secondary schools. He writes poetry and has an interest in literature, languages, and literary translations. His work has appeared here and there and is scheduled to appear elsewhere . At moments of revelation, he smokes and drinks green tea with mint while pondering.
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