Athletics and Tunisian Writing

Ali Znaidi has translated and posted an article by Kamel Riahi today, about Tunisian novelist Abdeljabbar Eleuch (pictured). I don’t think Eleuch has been translated into English, although he has appeared in French and, Riahi notes, in film. Riahi writes, (trans. Znaidi):

Tunisian novelist Abdeljabbar Eleuch grew in the grass of football fields and the fury of its spaces to provide Tunisian narration with “strong throws” that discomposed the achievement of the “scions” of the great Tunisian novelist Mahmoud Messadi and his seekers.

Eleuch’s texts make their reader gasp, running after the fleeting tales in a nimble way that is similar to the nimbleness of “Attouga” , the most famous goalkeeper ever of the Tunisian team, reminding that writing could grow in the racetrack as is the case with Haruki Murakami or in the goal nets as is the case with Albert Camus or in baseball fields as is the case with  Paul Auster, Kerouac, and Mark Harris or could be explosive like a forgotten landmine in a wild forest or as is the case with Ernest Hemingway who came from hunters and fishermen or as is the case with Samuel Beckett who trundled from the chessboard toppling the king and the horse.


Similar to these tense literary “sinews,” sinews of a Tunisian writer by the name of Abdeljabbar Eleuch grow. He plunged into creative writing with a poetry collection titledGollanar (Blossom of Pomegranate) and a CD in his voice. Those works received a remarkable success before he surprised the Tunisian creative scene in 2001 with a dangerous novelistic text titled Chronicles of the Strange City with which, at that time, he backed the judges of the Comar Prize into a corner when his novel was awarded the Golden Comar Prize. So detectives and cultural political police became furious in their attempt to take back the prize for the reason that the novel had not a legal deposit and it did not pass through the Tunisian censorship of books.

At that time he was supported by some honest writers and journalists, so the prize remained his own. He followed this novel with two novels titled respectively Afrikistan andA Trial of a Dog. Thus, he proved that he is one of the new novelistic names that are able to change the Tunisian novelistic scene which has remained for years suffering from draught, calcification, and regurgitation of classical novelistic patterns.

You can read the full translation of the article, which originally appeared on Al Jazeera (here), on Ali’s excellent Tunisian Literature (in English).