Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Translated by Emma Ramadan

Paris, summer of 2010. Zahira is a Moroccan prostitute late in her career whose generosity is her way of defying her humiliation and misery. Her friend Aziz, a male prostitute, admires her and emulates her. Aziz is transitioning from his past as a man into the womanhood of his future, and asks Zahira to help him choose a name for himself as a woman. Motjaba is an Iranian revolutionary, a refugee in Paris, a gay man fleeing his country at the end of his rope, who finds refuge for a few days with Zahira. And then there is Allal, Zahira's first love, who comes to Paris years later to save their love.

The world of Abdellah Taia's A Country for Dying is a world of dreamers, of lovers, for whom the price of dreaming is one they must pay with their flesh. Writes Taïa, "So many people find themselves in the same situation. It is our destiny: To pay with our bodies for other people's future."

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“Abdellah Taïa is one of the most original and necessary voices in world literature. ... With each novel Taïa grows as an artist and expands our knowledge of what it means to be an outsider inside the Muslim world.”

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In 1973, ABDELLAH TAÏA was born in the public library of Rabat in Morocco, where his father was the janitor and where his family lived until he was two years old. Acclaimed as both a novelist and filmmaker, he writes in French and has published eight books now widely translated, including Le jour de roi, which was awarded the prestigious French Prix de Flore in 2010. An adaptation of his novel L'Armée du salut was his first feature film, released in 2014, screened at major festivals around the world, and hailed by the New York Times as giving "the Arab world its first on-screen gay protagonist." Abdellah Taïa made history in 2006 by coming out in his country, where homosexuality is illegal. His commitment to the defense of homosexuals in Muslim countries has made him one of the most prominent Arab writers of his generation—both "a literary transgressor and cultural paragon," according to Interview magazine. Taia has lived in Paris since 1998.