Image: Maouya Azziz, Untitled. Courtesy of Imago Mundi.
This month we present fiction and poetry from Mauritania. Simultaneously Arab, West African, Saharan, and Sahelian, and straddling the Arabophone and Francophone spheres, Mauritania boasts a rich literature reflecting its multiple cultures. Ahmed Isselmou depicts a global currency system under cyberattack. In tales that speak to Mauritania's tradition of movement, Aichetou looks back to a female community in a seventeenth-century Bedouin encampment, while Moussa Ould Ebnou sends a time traveler in search of a better future. Cheikh Nouh records the history and traditions of a village, and Mariem Mint Derwich highlights the role of women in preserving a nomadic culture. Mamadou Kalidou Ba sits in as two activist groups join forces against the repressive state. And Bios Diallo finds common ground with other African nations. We thank our guest editor, July Blalack, who contributes an illuminating introduction.
Movement and Stasis: Contemporary Mauritanian Literature
Mauritanian literature foregrounds characters on the move.
“The central server is under attack and receiving commands to self-destruct.”
Listen, all of you, to what will later be said of the Forsaken by one of their descendants.
Their nayffara is a flutelike instrument heavy with history, deeply immersed in sorrow.
You Will Tell Them
You will say to them that she sleeps in the calabash of worlds
A Tactical Alliance
Depleted as they were, they realized that they had to either team up or go under.
Say to the Tomb
Here the poem ends
Barzakh: The Land of In-between
"What you are witnessing is the last face of the Earth."
Reviewed by Olivia Lott
Linguistic experimentation and political rebellion went hand in hand in the work of the Ecuadorian Adoum, a leading figure of the Latin American neo-avant-garde who wrote his verses in what he called "postspanish."
Reviewed by Josephine von Zitzewitz
With an unflinching gaze at physical and sexual violence, abundant profanity and a disregard for meter and rhyme, the poems in this collection expose the gruesome routine of gender hierarchy in a society that has turned the shoring up of patriarchal structures into government policy.
Reviewed by Ben Goldman
The narratives of "Everything Like Before," only the second book by the Norwegian writer to be published in the US, bend toward the seemingly mundane, then sting with an act that might (or might not) change everything.