A Country for Dying (Seven Stories Press)
An exquisite novel of North Africans in Paris by "one of the most original and necessary voices in world literature."
Paris, Summer 2010.
Zahira is 40 years old, Moroccan, a prostitute, traumatized by her father's suicide decades prior, and in love with a man who no longer loves her.
Zannouba, Zahira's friend and protege, formerly known as Aziz, prepares for gender confirmation surgery and reflects on the reoccuring trauma of loss, including the loss of her pre-transition male persona.
Mojtaba is a gay Iranian revolutionary who, having fled to Paris, seeks refuge with Zahira for the month of Ramadan.
Meanwhile, Allal, Zahira's first love back in Morocco, travels to Paris to find Zahira.
Through swirling, perpendicular narratives, A Country for Dying follows the inner lives of emigrants as they contend with the space between their dreams and their realities, a schism of a postcolonial world where, as Taïa writes, "So many people find themselves in the same situation. It is our destiny: To pay with our bodies for other people's future."
Praise for A Country for Dying:
"Abdellah Taïa dramatizes the reality of Zahira and Zannouba, Moroccan prostitutes in Paris, at sea in the stormy straits between the sexes and nationalities, estranged from their families but absorbed by their loves and fantasies; this is a cri de coeur and a cri de corps, heart and body crying in the lonely city." —Edmund White
"A Country for Dying is a knife of a novel—short, sharp, and jagged. Abdellah Taïa ruthlessly uses that knife to cut away sentimental notions of love, romance, family, and nation. He exposes how colonization has shaped sexual desire, expression, and exploitation, and leaves us with a memorable, powerful work." —Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer and The Refugees
"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." —David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife
Abdellah Taïa was born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1973. He is the first Arab writer to publicly declare his homosexuality. The French Editions du Seuil has published eight of his novels, written in French language and translated into English and other languages: "Salvation Army" (Semiotexte), "An Arab Melancholia" (Semiotexte), "Infidels" (Seven Stories Press), "Another Morocco" (Semiotexte), "A country for dying" (Seven Stories Press). His novel “Le jour du Roi" was awarded the prestigious French Prix de Flore in 2010. "Salvation Army", his first movie as a director, is adapted from his eponymous novel. The film was selected to Venice Film Festival 2013, TIFF 2013, New Directors 2014 and won many international prizes. He lives in Paris since 1999.
Colm Tóibín is the author of nine novels, including The Master and Brooklyn, and two collections of stories. His play The Testament of Mary was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play in 2013. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He is Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University.