Wow! Two days in a row I’m reposting Arab Lit (in English). Today Marcia Lynx Qualey brings up (& sends us to a dossier on) one of my very favorite Spanish-born Maghrebi-by-choice writers: Juan Goytisolo (5 January 1931 – 4 June 2017), someone I had hoped to eventually meet — something that was unhappily not to be. In my library Goytisolo’s books do not stand on the Spanish Lit shelves, but on the North African shelves. I certainly agree with the following thought of Goytisolo’s, quoted by Hisham Aidi in his essay: “I have always believed that the role of the intellectual is the critique of ‘your own,’ and the respect of the ‘other,’ and that is the opposite of nationalism, which is about promoting ‘us’ and rejecting the ‘other’—and if that is treason, then so be it, que así sea.” Aidi’s criticism of Goytisolo’s stance re the Moroccan regime may sound a bit harsh, but I (grudgingly) have to agree with the main features of his analysis. But next time in Larache, I’ll most certainly visit the cemetery where Goysitoli lies buried — I know the way, having taken it to visit Jean Genet’s grave, next to which si Juan was buried last year.
Episode 9 of Bulaq — a podcast co-hosted by Ursula Lindsey (The Arabist) and M. Lynx Qualey (ArabLit), and produced by Issandr Amrani (The Arabist) — is about “Good Bad Reviews”:
Although the meat of the episode is around reviewing, it kicks off with a discussion of an article Hisham Aidi published on MERIP. The piece, on Juan Goytisolo, is subtitled “Tangier, Havana and the Treasonous Intellectual.”
For the past 25 years, every evening around sunset, an elderly man could be seen gingerly crossing the Boulevard Pasteur, Tangier’s busy main thoroughfare. Shuffling toward the Grand Poste, he would walk slowly down the pavement to Café Maravillosa. Regulars would stand up to shake his hand. “Marhba, Si Juan.” Waiters would greet him, “Ja’izat Nobel dyalna, our own Nobel laureate,” and set him up at a table with a pot of green tea. For the next two hours, a steady rotation of old acquaintances, students and tourists would stop by to chat or take a photo.
This re-assessment of Goytisolo’s work is unflinching yet generous, and Aidi’s critical overview of the life and work of this Spanish writer — who spent much of his life in Morocco — is interlaced with elements of Aidi’s own story.
Keep reading: “Juan Goytisolo: Tangier, Havana and the Treasonous Intellectual.”
Listen: Bulaq Episode 9