The Mosaicist

The Mosaicist Cover

Author: Issa Nasseri

Publishing House: Masciliani

Publication Year: 2023

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 453

The events of the novel “The Mosaicist” are engaging in their complexity and narrative intricacy, encompassing intertwined narratives, memoirs, journalistic reports, dreams, and reflections in an exhilarating journey through eighteen centuries of human history.

Moroccan writer Issa Nasseri draws inspiration from the art of mosaic in his novel “The Mosaicist,” both as a theme and a structural element. The story unfolds in the city of “Wilili,” with its Roman archaeological site, comprising three embedded manuscripts (two novels and memoirs).

“The Mosaicist” delves into the depths of the human psyche, leaving an unforgettable impact. It is a journey into rich and multidimensional narrative worlds, characterized by a multitude of events, characters, places, and different times.

The novel “The Mosaicist” made it to the shortlist of novels nominated for the 17th edition of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2024, including Issa Nasseri’s work, published by Dar Maschiliany in 2023.

Set in the city of “Wilili,” the novel comprises three embedded manuscripts (two novels and memoirs). The first novel, “The Moorish Boy,” is written by Jawad Al-Atlas, the second, “Nights of Wilili,” is authored by Ariadna Noelle, and the third consists of memoirs titled “Bacchus in the Clinic,” written by Nawal Al-Hindawi. The integration was achieved by segmenting the three novels, and their fragments were laid out on the ground of the archaeological city of Wilili, considering it the primary space where most characters move, and where most events unfold.

As for the story’s timeframe, I combined an ancient distant time (the 2nd century) with a recent modern time (the 1990s). The challenge lay in building a logical bridge between them, spanning a time distance of approximately eighteen centuries. The Roman mosaic served as the bridge relied upon by the author.

“The Mosaicist” undergoes frequent and consistent temporal interweavings, in harmony with the mosaic structure shaped by the writer Issa Nasseri. He employed temporal distortions ranging from sequencing and inclusion (introducing one story into another) to alternating between retrieval, anticipation, and fragmentation. Despite these distortions and interweavings, which might initially seem confusing, the reader quickly adapts and organizes the temporal elements as they progress through the narrative.

As for the character of the Mosaicist, “Tahami Al-Ismaili,” in the novel, he is a writer who has mastered the craft of Moroccan mosaic known as “Zellij.” This writer/mosaicist is tasked with assembling narrative pieces to form the comprehensive novel’s tableau, representing the novelist.

“The Mosaicist” is a historical, fantastical, realistic, and psychological novel that raises questions about freedom, memory, writing, and love.

Read More About Issa Nasseri

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