cover image In Tangier: Paul Bowles, Jean Genet, Tennessee Williams

In Tangier: Paul Bowles, Jean Genet, Tennessee Williams

Mohamed Choukri, trans. from the Arabic by Paul Bowles, Gretchen Head, and John Garrett, forewords by William Burroughs and Gavin Lambert, Telegram (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-84659-061-0

Choukri, who grew up illiterate before becoming one of Morocco's seminal writers, shares three distinctive portraits with progressive degrees of intimacy. Genet is often observed from a distance or recollected in short bits of passing conversation and these reprinted journal entries speak most to Choukri's own aspirations of becoming a writer. Williams's stint in Tangier in 1973 included countless languid café afternoons and dinner parties; the two writers were friends and these amicable passages provide satisfying windows of "real" life for a literary figure as mythic as Williams. But it is Bowles (who translated the first two sections of this book as well as Choukri's For Bread Alone) who comes most to life with depth and honesty in a portrait that is not always flattering (it is here too that the city of Tangiers becomes another vibrant character): "Paul Bowles loves Morocco, but does not really like Moroccans," Choukri reflects. Though it is clear from their years together that Bowles did indeed like Choukri; the tenderness with which they both age has less to do the veneer of fame than of men aware of their own mortality. (Nov.)