"The Elusive Fox is an indelible portrait of a man in transit and a country in transition. Zafzaf writes without indulgence, yet with sympathy and humor, about life in the coastal town Essaouira, where locals and tourists mingle, mutually exposing their hypocrisies. A gritty, powerful novel by one of Morocco’s greatest writers."—Laila Lalami, author of The Moor’s Account
"A welcome addition to the canon of works of Moroccan literature in translation."—translator of Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy
"A key novel by one of Morocco’s most important Arabic novelists. . . . Represents the neglected Arabic perspective on the characters Beat generation writers such as Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs encountered during their stay in Morocco."—associate professor of Arabic, Dartmouth College
"This slim, clever novel, ably translated by Sryfi and Roger Allen, offers a dense and layered portrait of not just 1960s Morocco as experienced by a Moroccan, but also of how wealth and power slice up the privilege to be free."—Qantara
Considered one of Morocco’s most important contemporary writers, Muhammad Zafzaf created stories of alterity, compassionate tales inhabited by prostitutes, thieves, and addicts living in the margins of society. In The Elusive Fox, Zafzaf’s first novel to be translated into English, a young teacher visits the coastal city of Essaouira in the 1960s. There he meets a group of European bohemians and local Moroccans and is exposed to the grittier side of society. More than a novel, The Elusive Fox is a portrait of a city during a time of fluid cultural and political mores in Morocco.
Muhammad Zafzaf (1945–2001) was one of the most prominent writers of the Maghreb. The author of dozens of novels and short stories, Zafzaf was celebrated for his innovative, modernist, and aesthetic literature rooted in the detailed daily anxieties of the ordinary Moroccan.
Mbarek Sryfi is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. His translations have appeared in CELAAN, Metamorphoses, World Literature Today, and Banipal.
Roger Allen is the Sascha Jane Patterson Harvie Professor Emeritus of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics, School of Arts and Sciences, and professor emeritus of Arabic and comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania.