Magazine article New Internationalist

[A Life Full of Holes]

Magazine article New Internationalist

[A Life Full of Holes]

Article excerpt

A Life Full Of Holes has a most unusual provenance. First published in 1964, it was not written in the conventional sense but spoken into a tape recorder by a young Moroccan who could neither read nor write. The recordings were transcribed and translated from the original Moghrebi Arabic by the American author Paul Bowles and published under the pseudonym Driss Ben Hamed Charhadi. As Bowles says in his introduction, Charhadi was a natural storyteller and the translation needed 'nothing to be added, deleted or altered'.

The work takes us, in 17 self-contained episodes, through the childhood and young manhood of the narrator, Ahmed. When he is eight his mother marries a soldier and Ahmed, disregarded by his stepfather, cannot attend school or gain any education. His life becomes a succession of menial short-term jobs -- baker's delivery-boy, cafe watchman, housekeeper for two dissolute Frenchmen -- always in desperate poverty and constantly in trouble with the authorities. …

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