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Maps of the Soul

by Ahmed Fagih

How do you preserve your identity and save your soul while trying to survive under brutal foreign oppression? The occupied city of Tripoli is as much a character in this story as that of the narrator, whose rise from rags to riches and back echoes the city’s history. The second person narration grips you from the very first horrifying sentence and draws you into every scene like a movie.

Extract

You told yourself that one had to sail away from Tripoli to appreciate its true beauty. How could one try to define this place, with its identity, personality and myriad colours, and then say to its Italian governor to remake it into a Western city? Tripoli would always remain one of the oases surrounded by barren land, and the red sand dunes around it would always shimmer in the scorching sun like two great crimson arms holding the green oasis and offering it like a sacrifice to the sea ....
You saw Tripoli walking and weeping. The shore wept and moved, the ship wept and sailed, the sun wept and moved across the dome of the universe, and you too wept, walking towards your unknown fate.

Parallels

Under the Tripoli Sky by Kamal Ben Hameda
The Country of Men by Hisham Matar
 

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