Magazine article New Internationalist

Streetwise

Magazine article New Internationalist

Streetwise

Article excerpt

Books Streetwise by Mohammed Choukri trans by Ed Emery (Telegram, ISBN 978 1 84859 027 6)

Mohammed Choukri's best-known book, the autobiographical For Bread Alone, was written in 1972 and covered his childhood years. His path to becoming a published author was almost unimaginably difficult. Choukri was born in 1935 into grinding poverty in Morocco's Rif Mountains. Eight of his brothers and sisters died of starvation and neglect, and Mohammed, fleeing a violent and abusive father, became an illiterate street-child in the slums of Tangier where his friends were prostitutes, drug addicts and thieves.

When he was 20 years old, Mohammed made the life-changing decision to learn to read and write. It is this phase of his remarkable life story that he tells in Streetwise, beginning with his enrolment in elementary school alongside children less than half his age. His unquenchable passion for learning was eventually to take him, via training college and a career in teaching, to the chair in Arabic Literature at lbn Batuta College in Tangiers. …

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