Friday Film: ‘For Bread Alone’

Every Friday, ArabLit suggests a new classic film-book combination — for you to watch and read — until we run out of steam about 20 weeks in:

The film For Bread Alone is based on the controversial, much-banned, landmark 1952 autobiographical novel by Moroccan writer Mohamed Choukri. The film was “produced and largely crewed by Italians and helmed by Algerian Rachid Benhadj,” according to a brief 2005 review in Variety, which complains that the film “sticks unadventurously close to its literary source, which works best with the…scenes of Choukri’s nightmarish childhood.” Also, the Variety sketch-review suggests, “Though hero’s early addiction to bordellos may be problematic for some markets, ‘Bread’ might ultimately fare best on television.”

Novelist Paul Bowles’ English translation, or adaptation, of Choukri’s work has seen a number of critiques, as for instane Nirvana Tanoukhi’s “Rewriting Political Commitment for an International Canon: Paul Bowles’s For Bread Alone as Translation of Mohamed Choukri’s Al-Khubz Al-Hafi” (2003).

Watch the film:

Previous Friday films:

Gate of the Sun, based on the novel by Elias Khoury

The Dupesbased on Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Son

Diary of a Country Prosecutor, based on a novel by Tawfiq al-Hakim

Adrift on the Nile, based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz

A Nightingale’s Prayerbased on a novel by Taha Hussein.

 Kit Katbased on the novel The Heron by Ibrahim Aslan, available in translation by Elliott Colla.

The Egyptian Citizen, based on Yusuf al-Qa’id’s award-winning novel War in the Land of Egypt

The Lamp of Umm Hashem, Inspired by a Novella by Yahia Haqqi