Something strange, like Hunger by Malika Moustadraf

Something strange, like hunger short stories by Malika Moustadraf

US title – Blood feast

Moroccan fiction

Original title – some stories in the collection Trente six

Translator – Alice Guthrie

Source – personal copy

I have to hold my hands up this is yet another. Arab book I first heard of via Arablit first I think it was on a list of books to read from Arabic that was coming out this year. It was also on their podcast have they had a chat with Alice GUTHRIE I think I order the book the second the podcast end so caught up in the short life of this feminist Moroccan writer. She died too early as complications of her kidney disease and she had dialysis. Alice said she discover her when she was asked to translate a story by her for Words without words that were 10 years after Malika had died and she has brought most of what she wrote into English this is a short collection of short stories by a writer that tested the bounds of what she could write.

This Saturday night I feel a searing pain rip through my belly. Something warm is pouring out from between my thighs and running down my legs. It smells foul. I understand, but I don’t know what to do. I put my hand between my legs to stop this disgusting contamination
from flowing. My fingers are covered in blood. A droplet falls, dark as liver. I shudder, the iron bed frame creaks.`My teeth chatter. I feel degraded, humiliated, I’m cringing in abject shame. What if the blood floods the whole room? The stairs? The neighbourhood? I cry out. My father comes. His eyes are half-closed. What’s the matter?’ His voice sounds like a death rattle. ‘What’s the matter?’

The young girl awakes and is shocked by the blood at her father’s house.

These stories tackle those people on the edge of the world she lived in those women that just have to get by t in a male-dominated society. from a girl who needed a virginity test to marry and escape the world she lives in will she passes will her mother help her out. Will her daughter get the concrete house in ItalyThen we have a young girl with her father as she has her first period a frightening experience as her father has her every Saturday with different women by his side as she visits him.  she wakes to find dark blood between her legs and a woman she barely knows her only help as the girl ends the story the stone of dread weights her down on the Saturday visits. Then we end up on a crowded hot bus as we see a boy pick his nose she captures that crowded feeling of a busy bus so well. then the tale. IN housefly we have a depiction of cybersex as a woman chats with Jupiter 1960 as a housefly buzz around her as she does so. The last story death was meant to be part of a novel.

In front of me was a woman with a child on her back of about four years old, indifferent to what was going on around him, munching on a greasy doughnut and slurping from time to time on the snot running out of his nose. To my left was someone with body odour so nauseating it could knock a person out. And behind me was someone pressing up against me in a weird way. I could feel his
breath burning my ear. The decrepit bus moved like a time-ravaged tortoise, the driver pulling over to let scores more humans on at every stop. I don’t know how the bus had room for that colossal number of passengers.
The man’s breaths were still too close to my ear. I tried to pull away from him a little, but it was so jam-packed in there – such claustrophobia, such a stink of sweat and farts. The man was blatantly rubbing himself up against me, and if I stayed silent any longer it would be taken to mean I was enjoying the game. You bastards – even on the bus?

Claustrophobia a crowded bus caught so well in this very short story.

This is such a small collection it is so sad this is all we will have this is a writer that tests the boundaries of what she could write. she was the first to depict cybersex in Arabic Alice said in the afterword. the book is one of those that takes you into places we shouldn’t be a girl having her first period, a girl trying to prove she is a virgin than a woman laid on a bed chatting over the internet to a man that isn’t her husband. this is a grimy dark visceral world she paints a world we never see that hidden world. I suggest you listen to the Arablit podcast (BULAQ). THE afterword is enlightening with the slang used explained that opens up the world we enter the sad thing about this collection it left me wanting more she had written a novel which hopefully Alice will translate as she has such passion for this write and bringing her voice to English a brave soul that test what she could get away with. Have you a favourite female writer from the Arab world?

Winsons score – +A one hell of a collection that will stay with me and I will reread this collection for many years to come.

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