Fiction in Translation
English edition  
March  2009
180 pp.
12.5X20 cm
ISBN 9789774162558
For sale worldwide


The Hedgehog

A Syrian Novella and Short Stories Zakaria Tamer
Translated by Brian O’Rourke
Denys Johnson-Davies

A new novella from the veteran Syrian writer, with some of his classic stories

“My mother went to visit our neighbor, Umm Bahaa, but refused to take me with her, on the pretext that women visit women and men visit men. So she left me alone, promising not to be gone more than a few minutes. I told my cat I was going to strangle her, but she paid no attention and continued grooming herself with her tongue.” Thus we meet the five-year-old narrator of The Hedgehog, who introduces us to his world: his house (with the djinn girl who lives in his bedroom), his garden (where he wishes to be a tree), and his best friend the black stone wall. This tightly told novella confirms that Zakaria Tamer remains at the height of his powers. The short stories that follow were first published in the collection Tigers on the Tenth Day. Economical and controlled, they deal with man’s inhumanity to man (and to woman) and showcase the author’s typical sharply satirical style.
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Zakaria Tamer, born in Damascus in 1931, published his first stories in 1957 and has long been recognized as one of the pre-eminent short fiction writers of the Arab world, as well as the foremost writer of Arabic children’s fiction. He lives in London. He was awarded the Al Amajidi Ibn Dhaher Blue Metropolis Arab Literary Prize in 2009 Brian O’Rourke has pursued careers in law and diplomatic service. He lives in Istanbul. Denys Johnson-Davies has produced more than thirty volumes of translation of modern Arabic literature. He is the editor of The Essential Tawfiq al-Hakim (AUC Press, 2008), The Essential Yusuf Idris (AUC Press, 2009), and In a Fertile Desert (AUC Press, 2009).

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"Tamer's world is not usually a kind one, but the precision of his language, enigmatic style, and frequent black humour have ensured that these stories are as readable today . . . as when they were first published—continuing to provide for the non-specialist reader 'a revealing peep behind the scenes,' in [Denys] Johnson-Davies's words, of a harsh and sometimes puzzling world."—Banipal

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