A Rare Blue Bird Flies with Me

A Rare Blue Bird Flies with Me

Publishing House: Hoopoe

Publication Year: 2016

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 248

“A Rare Blue Bird Flies With Me: A Novel” by Moroccan author Youssef Fadel unfolds in the spring of 1990. Zina receives a mysterious note from Aziz, her husband who vanished the day after their wedding two decades ago. Meanwhile, as Aziz grapples with memories of his past life, Zina embarks on a quest to a hidden desert prison.

Fadel’s novel pays tribute to a dark chapter in Morocco’s history, depicting the aftermath of the 1972 events. Notably, BookShy Blog calls it a “masterful history,” and critics praise its daring portrayal of contemporary issues. Additionally, Literary Hub likens it to a tightly wound detective story.

“Metaphors of Imprisonment: Youssef Fadel’s Shortlisted Novel and Morocco’s Turbulent History”

Shortlisted for the prestigious International Prize for Arabic Fiction, the novel employs the metaphor of a man’s detention in a makeshift Moroccan prison to reflect on the country’s turbulent history. Fadel adopts a first-person narrative style, enabling characters to relay their encounters with Aziz, and offering intimate insights into each character’s mind. The recurring motif of birds symbolizes Aziz’s imprisonment, providing a poignant reflection of his experiences.

Translator Jonathan Smolin’s foreword provides essential context, revealing that Aziz’s story is a mosaic of real prison experiences in Morocco, drawn from the author’s own time in Moulay Cherif prison. Simultaneously, Zina’s relentless search for Aziz and the interplay of life and death, as depicted through various characters, including a guard’s wife and a turtle, heighten the story’s emotional depth and embody the themes of birth and renewal.

Fadel’s writing style, characterized by a backward narrative structure and short, fragmented sentences, immerses the reader in the story’s complexity. It mirrors Zina’s desperate search for Aziz. This narrative approach gradually unveils critical aspects of Zina and Aziz’s connection, artfully constructed through Fadel’s skillful storytelling.

The novel’s structure, characterized by alternating first-person narratives, initially hinders a deep connection with any single character. Nevertheless, characters symbolizing the nation’s collective hope for survival surround Aziz, who serves as a metaphor for Morocco itself. Despite the initial challenge in establishing a profound connection, the novel’s darkness finds balance in moments of liberation. Skillfully, Fadel weaves a narrative that is both harrowing and redemptive, creating a compelling tapestry of emotions and themes.

Read More About Youssef Fadel

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