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Between the Covers Podcast

Abdellah Taïa : A Country For Dying

Today’s guest, Moroccan writer and filmmaker Abdellah Taïa discusses his most recent novel A Country For Dying translated by Emma Ramadan and winner of the 2021 PEN Translation Award. We talk about voice in relation to self, story in relation to truth, writing in one’s second language, particularly a language imposed by colonization, about making that tongue bend to one’s reality, about being both Muslim and gay (as well as being the first openly homosexual Arab writer from Morocco), about why it is important not to write characters who are good, or only so, about Isabelle Adjani, the Zulawski film Possession, the role of possession and djinns in his work, and about creating a literature that does not itself come from literature, that does not come from books or speak to them.

A great complement to today’s conversation with Abdellah is the hour-long conversation with his translator Emma Ramadan which joins the Between the Covers bonus audio archive. Emma talks about what attracts her to Abdellah’s writing, about the resonances she sees between his work and that of Marguerite Duras, about the challenges of bringing his work into English, about translating explicit sex scenes, gender pronouns and gendered words, about sexism in the translation industry, about the benefits of co-translation, and about the relationship of translation to the body. To find out how to subscribe to the bonus audio and the many other potential benefits of becoming a listener-supporter of the show head over to the Between the Covers Patreon Page.