cover image The Death of Murat Idrissi

The Death of Murat Idrissi

Tommy Wieringa, trans. from the Dutch by Sam Garrett. Scribe, $20 (112p) ISBN 978-1-950354-36-8

The fates and fortunes of a group of Moroccan and Moroccan Dutch characters turn on matters of citizenship, in Dutch writer Wieringa’s sleek literary thriller (after These Are the Names). Friends Thouraya and Ilham were born in the Netherlands to Moroccan parents, but feel like aliens in their own country. Having never been to Morocco, the two 20-something women decide to travel there on vacation by car. They find the country grim and forbidding, so when charming local Saleh offers himself as a guide in Rabat, they eagerly accept. On the eve of their return home, Saleh throws them a curve ball. He has brokered a deal to smuggle 19-year-old Moroccan Murat Idrissi into Europe, and plans to do so by stashing him in the trunk of Thouraya and Ilham’s car on the ferry to Spain. Murat’s mother implores the wary Ilham, who relents and convinces Thouraya. The book’s title suggests how this ends, and Wieringa shifts the focus from the question of whether the plan will succeed to a gripping probe into how the death occurred and its aftermath. While the underdeveloped Murat functions primarily as a political symbol, the women’s ill-fated journey leads to an emotionally complex and ultimately chilling transformation. Wieringa hits the mark with this intelligent outing. (Jan.)