Albertine Prize Nominee: Infidels by Abdellah Taia
Infidels by Abdellah Taia has been nominated for the Albertine Prize, a reader's choice award for best contemporary French fiction in English translation. Set in Morocco, Infidels follows the life of Jallal and his mother, a prostitute who endures hypocrisy and rejection, from their home country to Cairo, Brussels to Casablanca. Filled with a cast of supporting characters whose dreams unravel, the book is structured as a series of monologues, an emotionally relentless mix of confession and secret longing. Translated by Alison L. Strayer (Seven Stories Press). Vote for the Albertine prize through April 30th!
An Excerpt from Infidels
Nobody will come, maman.
You know it, maman. It’s too late. Or too early. The men don’t come here anymore, and you know it. You know it. Isn’t that true? Stop insisting, I don’t want to do it anymore. Don’t want anything to do with that ritual. We’ve been waiting a very long time. It’s over. It’s over. The last time we met up with a monster. He wanted to devour me. He did strange things to me. I told you. Remember? No? Really? Come on, we’re going home. We’re leaving, maman… We’re leaving. The streets are empty, no one will see us, hurl insults and stones at us. And if anyone spits at you, I’ll fight. I’ll defend you. I won’t run away. I’ve grown up. I can see I’ve grown up. I’ve learned to spit at people, too. Deep inside I remember everything. I’m not looking for trouble, but now if someone looks at me with evil eyes, eyes that cast spells, I know what to do. I spit. I stand my ground.
I don’t look down, I face them down. I spit. I spit at all those people who despise us and pretend not to know you, maman. I spit. I spit. I spit with all my heart and soul. I spit as far as I can at the feet of my enemy and attacker, the bastard who won’t let it drop but calls after me with his cheap remarks, his tight-ass religious moralizing. I aim far, maman. I aim at the place where my attack will drive its point home. I inhale hard through my nose. I rake the bottom of my throat. I bring up all the half-dried snot from my nostrils onto my tongue. I hawk up all the filth from my lungs and mix it in my mouth with saliva. I get a big wad ready. I build up momentum. I attack. I launched my nuclear weapon. My gob of spit is so heavy, so sophisticated, it takes a while to land and explode in the face of my enemy, our enemies, maman. It’s like Captain Majid cartoons. The action happens in slow motion. My spit is suspended in midair. I’ll stay that way forever. In the air. A serious threat to anyone who insults you, maman. I’ll kill them all, blow them to pieces, pulverize them, wipe them off the face of the earth, of this world, this endless night, just with what comes out of my nose.
They say I’m dirty. You’re dirty. I am the son of a dirty woman. The son of dirty Slima. You’re not dirty, maman. My Slima. I know that. You’re not dirty. I swear to you. I swear.
Do you believe me?
You have to believe me.
I really know how to spit. Want me to prove it? I can. Right now. Spit all the way to that power pole. Do you want me to? I can.
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