"Mosbahi’s work dissolves temporal barriers, saturating the present with echoes of the past. It feels vertiginous to remember that all the action spans a single day, kaleidoscoped through the mind of the eponymous orphan-protagonist Yunus and taking place mostly along the coast, at the threshold of sea and sand."—Alex Tan, Asymptote
"Mosbahi’s prose, in Hutchins’s translation, is endlessly allusive, shifting from its protagonist’s innermost thoughts to broader meditations on his region’s geopolitics and back again."—Tobias Carroll, Words Without Borders
"One of the best translations. . . . A splendid contribution to Tunisian studies in the Anglophone world."—Lamia Benyoussef, translator of The Perplexity of a Muslim Woman
"Hutchins’ exceptional translation of an Arabic fiction rich in allegory and intertextual references bridging Arab / Muslim and European cultures offers the readers a new door to access and appreciate Tunisian culture and society as well as enrich their grasp of people’s experiences in the larger area throughout the history of the region."—Saloua Ali Zahra, Apalachian State University
In Hassouna Mosbahi’s engrossing and keenly observed novel, he takes readers deep into one day in the life of Yunus, a Tunisian intellectual. A professor of French language and Flaubert specialist, Yunis is recently retired and separated from his wife, as he leaves the city to settle in the Tunisian coastal city of Nabeul. Searching for solitude, he hopes to spend the remainder of his life among the books he loves. On the day of his sixtieth birthday, Yunus plunges into a delayed midlife crisis as he reflects on the major moments in his life, from taking up writing as a young man to his career as a university professor to his failed marriage. Yunus’s identity crisis mirrors that of his Tunisian homeland with its tumultuous history of political and cultural upheaval. He meditates on the lives of his friends, drawing from his memory a colorful cast of characters whose experiences reflect the outsized influence of religion and tradition in their lives. Through the eyes of Yunus, Mosbahi’s elegiac, literary novel explores life and death, love and writing, and the relationship between puritanism and extremism in the Arab world today.
Hassouna Mosbahi is a Tunisian writer, literary critic, and journalist. He is the author of several novels and short story collections.
William M. Hutchins is professor of religious studies at Appalachian State University. His translations include Hassan Nasr’s Return to Dar al-Basha and Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Modern.
6 x 9, 256 pages