The Intriguing Literary Works of Leila Abouzeid
The acclaimed author, Leila Abouzeid, is considered to be a pioneer among her Moroccan contemporaries, mainly due to her choice to write in Arabic rather than in French. Her works have been translated into a number of languages, including English, Dutch, German and Urdu. She currently lives in Rabat, Morocco where she is in demand as a speaker on television and radio.
Leila Abouzeid studied at the University of Texas and the Mohamed V University in Rabat. She began her career as a TV and radio journalist. In 1992 Abouzeid left her journalist career to dedicate her time to writing fiction, which turned out to be a wise move.
Her first novel, “Year of the Elephant”, tackled common themes in modern Moroccan literature, such as family conflict and divorce. However, Leila Abouzeid took a unique approach to these themes, by looking at them from the perspective of a woman and exploring issues such as the conflict that often occurs between traditional culture and modernism, the value of a woman in Moroccan society and the true meaning of independence.
Leila Abouzeid’s auto-biographical work “Return to Childhood” is a narrative of her family’s struggles during the nationalist fight for independence in Morocco. It highlights the ambiguities and contradictions that woman have to deal with in this type of conflict situation.
“The Last Chapter” which is largely auto-biographical, is about a young Moroccan woman who struggles to find her identity in the late twentieth century Morocco. Shifting values that affect male/female relationships, clashes between traditional and modern Moroccan society, Western and Islamic values and the older practices of witchcraft and sorcery are all dealt with in Abouzeid’s unique style.
Leila Abouzeid’s most recent offering to the literary world is “The Director and Other Stories from Morocco”. Using the oral story telling or narrating technique popular in Arabic fiction, Abouzeid’s stories deal with relationships on many different levels. Taking cognizance of the shift from traditional to modern values, she deals with relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives and between citizens of independent Morocco and its new government.
Leila Abouzeid’s style of writing and subject choice cuts through cultural and national boundaries and carries meaning for both Western and Middle Eastern readers. Critics acknowledge that she is a talented author and her work has substance. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary to read, you will certainly not be disappointed when choosing a book by Leila Abouzeid of Morocco.