Pens from My Country by Saloua Rachdi. Reviewed by Noureddine Bettaieb.

Pens from My Country (Front and Back Cover)

Saloua Rachdi’s Pens from My Country: Readings in Tunisian Novels

Tunis (Alchourouk)

Saloua Rachdi, whom we only knew as a writer who writes short stories and poetry in Arabic,   surprised readers with a book in French language. Her new book was published these days in French language by Maison Perspectives d’Édition de Tunisie under the series “Profiles and Works.”

As it was unaccustomed, Rachdi released a book in French language. It is a small-sized book of criticism in 122 pages through which she touched upon some of Tunisian fictional and poetic works.

The book represents an important contribution to examining works that have been published because Tunisian literary works are suffering from a lot of neglect and lack of critical examination. Contrary to the many poetry books, novels, and short story collections that are published, we find only books that are counted on fingers as far as critical examination is concerned. Besides, most of these books have academic aspects.

In this book Pens from My Country (Plumes de mon pays)

Saloua Rachdi studies Abdul Qadir Ben Haj Nasr’s novel The Quarter of Bab Souika in a chapter titled ‘Reality is more dazzling than imagination.’ There is another chapter titled ‘The poet in a prophet’s voice’ about Jalal El Mokh’s book. There are also two chapters dealing respectively with Slaheddine Boujah’s novel The Colour of the Soul in which Saloua Rachdi saw ‘Other colours of novels,’ and Wassila Zarrai’s The Pain of the Apple titled ‘Theatrical direction and poetic writing.’ She wrote about Hassouna Mosbahi’s novel The Ashes of Life under the title ‘A career of a returned exiled person,’ and about Mounira Rezgui’s novel A Little Bit of Desire in which she saw a bit of imagination that teases reality. Besides, she saw in Fathia Hechmi’s novel Myriam Falls from God’s Hands that ‘Ugliness begets beauty.’ She devoted a chapter titled ‘The Scream of Silence’ about Noureddine Aloui’s novel In the Country of the Near Edge.

The book also touched upon Massouda Abou Bakr’s novel The ‘A’ and the ‘N’, the lamented Radwan Al-Kouni’s The Dervish of the Square, Hassan Nasr’s Winged Creatures, Fatma Ben Fdhila’s Narrated by the Two Lovers, Hassanine Ben Ammou’s The Anklet, Amel Mokhtar’s The Rocking Chair, Abdul Qadir Ben Haj Nasr’s The Kingdom of Bardo, Ali Dab’s The Gardens of the Dawn, Naceur Toumi’s The Man of the Hurricanes, Mounir Reggui’s Trick of the Time, and Abbas Slimane’s A Hell in Heaven.

These narrative works represent experiences and visions of different generations. For instance, Abdul Qadir Ben Haj Nasr represents the second generation of the Tunisian novel and short story after the founding generation that was led by Bechir Khraief, however Hassouna Mosbahi represents the generation that gave a firm foundation to narrative writing in Tunisia through openness to Arab and world experiences. The new generation is represented by Mounira Rezgui, Noureddine Aloui, Fethia Hechmi, and others.

Saloua Rachdi dedicated this book to Tunisia that made the spring. It is a book that represents a contribution to the stumbling criticism movement.

Originally appeared in the Tunisian daily Alchourouk 17/05/2012 by Noureddine Bettaieb.

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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