Issa Nasseri

Issa Nasseri

Issa Nasseri is a Moroccan novelist and short story writer born in the city of M’rirt, Morocco, in 1985. He works as an Arabic language professor in secondary education and obtained a master’s degree in “Linguistic Development and Literary Terminology Issues” from Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah University in Fes.

Nasseri’s short story collection “Musk Dhuat Al-Nab” was published in 2016. His debut novel, “The Mosaicist,” was released in 2023 and made it to the shortlist of the 2024 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, known as the “Arabic Booker.” Issa Nasseri received the Union of Moroccan Writers’ Youth Prize in 2017 for the short story category, awarded for his collection “Blindness of Specters,” and the Ahmed Bouzfour Young Short Story Writers Award in the Arab world in 2014 for the collection “Musk Dhuat Al-Nab.”

The events of the novel “The Mosaicist” unfold in the city of “Wilili,” with its Roman archaeological site, comprising three embedded manuscripts (two novels and memoirs). The first novel, “The Moorish Boy,” is set during the Roman occupation of Morocco in the 2nd century AD, depicting the creation of a mosaic with a voice against the Romans by the Moorish people, the indigenous inhabitants. The second embedded novel takes place between 1994 and 1996, following the American writer Ariadna Noelle on a quest for a missing mosaic, guided by her Moroccan neighbor Lina, the widow of a Moroccan husband and owner of a house containing part of the stolen mosaic from the Wilili archaeological site. A love story develops between her and Jawad, the writer of the manuscript “The Moorish Boy.” The third manuscript consists of memoirs written by the psychiatrist Nawal Al-Hindawi about her patients, Tahami Al-Ismaili and Ayyash Al-Hafyan. Ayyash was wrongly accused of stealing the statue of Bacchus Al-Ghali from the Wilili archaeological site and sentenced to ten years in prison. These manuscripts bridge the distant past with the recent present, weaving a narrative tapestry of historical fantasy, reality, and psychological exploration, posing questions about freedom, memory, writing, and love.

Issa Nasseri describes the time it took to write the novel and the locations where he wrote it, saying, “It took more than two and a half years to write ‘The Mosaicist,’ and I wrote it in three places: Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, a town near Wilili, Meknes, and M’rirt. I completed the imaginative part of it in my hometown, M’rirt, before periodically revisiting the manuscript for changes and modifications before sending it for publication.”

He adds, “While writing ‘The Mosaicist,’ I conceived a structure that aligns with the art of mosaic, based on dismantling, fragmentation, interweaving, and intertwining. It involves collecting and integrating three novels within a fourth comprehensive novel.”

Books Written by Issa Nasseri