Although he has published eight books and most of them have been translated, although it won the Flore prize and that has become the writer who should be invited when it comes to talk about Islam and homosexuality, Abdellah Taia still dreams of becoming a filmmaker. Imagine that admiration for the cinema (“At thirteen I found a picture of Isabelle Adjani and knew I wanted to be a director in Paris,” he says) he explains that I have gathered in a cafe called Sarah Bernhardt. also may Bernhardt makes you think of the divas of Egyptian soap operas that were the distraction of his nights in the modest house in Saleh, the former “city of pirates”, now in the shadow of the neighboring Rabat, the capital of Morocco.
That house is the setting for his novels. Three rooms: one for the father, concierge library; one for the older brother; and sharing the mother and the eight minor children, including Abdellah. Egyptian actresses who despite living in an Arab country smoked, drank and kissed several men, were for him a symbol of freedom. Such as film, an escape.
How did you think of the movie – ask me.
In an interview with Loubna Bernichi he made ??him in 2006 for the magazine Maroc Hebdo International reads: “He is 33 and looks five minus”. And the ratio remains, I say. Taia has just released his first feature, The Salvation Army , and before reaching commercial cinemas was presented at the Mostra of Venice and Toronto Film Festival.
Several of the people who attended the Friday before the last show of the night at the MK2 Beaubourg cinema dressed in the same manner as in coffee Taia Bernhardt: white shirt, jeans, a diver hood. The short hair was the rule and the Maghreb could imagine. Some went with their partners, European men or other boys who looked like immigrants, but most were alone. They are smiling and looking isolated chairs, unaware of who has entered rooms x act. In his penultimate novel, An Arab Melancholy , Taia described the Guidia cinema in Cairo, as “full of men of all ages who give to each other without complexes hide” and one gets the impression that if it were not for the presence of a girl in the second row, that could occur in the projection of the Salvation Army at a time and on a day that already neighboring Marais, the gay quarter of Paris, seems ready for tonight. “Everyone has read the novel,” says one of them. “Everyone is coming to see the movie,” he adds.
The novel’s title to the film was published in 2006.
The first homosexual experience Taia was, in fact, in a cinema in Tangier.
I was surprised that there was little dialogue I tell him. Violence is less noticeable than in the book, as if over time you would like to have things lighter.
I’m a very visual person and so I preferred to limit the dialogue and avoid music. The tranquility, not think- said Taia. There may be periods when I rabies less noticeable, but it’s there, it entirely. What I’m writing right now is very raw, very violent.
What is now writing the history of the Moroccan prostitutes who come to “finish his career” on the streets of Paris. He says that only addresses issues that knows first hand and in that sense it does not bother him to say that his novels are autobiographical. Taia is a great solo and maybe that’s why they do not appear in gay or rumba or clichés about the environment. Instead many references to his life of immigrant, his platonic love with men who only wanted an adventure, and adventures with men who were in love with him, and obsessive love for his older brother. In the novel, the film and in life, the fourth of his brother is a temple. It is where rock cassettes and books in French, the language studied and in which, to date, has written his work are. Also underwear smells Abdellah little hidden spots and whose sperm fascinate you. That love through the object is repeated in one of the strongest scenes of the film, which, however, was not taken from the army … but the latest, An Arabian melancholy , when Abdellah allows a seller’s market abuse it because he knows he is a lover of his mother.
‘In Morocco there are many men who have sex with men, but in public we must preserve the appearance of masculinity he says. As I was the only effeminate neighborhood, the little woman, everybody believed with the right to touch me and rape me. I had to repress the feminine sheer survival strategy.
The men from across the sea
Another of his recurring characters in the work of the Moroccan novelist European tourists, usually friendly, though assumes that can have any boy you see on the streets, which of course “reward”. Although many young Moroccans would have sex with a local man, usually accept the proposals of foreigners. See in them the immediate opportunity to earn some money and the farthest you can migrate.
Taia traveled to Europe with one of her lovers, a Swiss university professor, helped with the arrangements for managing a scholarship. However, the relationship they had before the trip ended, and without understanding the dynamics of Geneva, without money or contacts, Abdellah ended in a Salvation Army shelter. It is this story that gives title to the novel from which Taia wrote the screenplay for his film.
A Geneva followed Paris, where Taia earned his living as a babysitter, he wrote a thesis on Proust and graduated from master at the Sorbonne. Although the backs of his books says it is doing a PhD, he has already abandoned the project. He says that in the midst of very rational French system would have no way to write a thesis with the freedom that has been used.
It was during his student years living in chambres de bonne Porte de Clignancourt and Belleville, which Taia began to shape the ideas he had recorded in his diaries, one of the few things that accompanied him since he left the house family. One of the stories caught the attention of the Seguier publishing and in 2000 was published My Morocco .
His second book, The red fez , appeared in 2004 under the label of novel, although it is more a collection of interwoven stories. Taia talks about his life in the popular store Tati Paris, racism on the rise apartments and fifteen square meters, and evokes his native country under a double look: the voluntary exile of strange colorful and Morocco where human relationships carries hold, and the victim of violence in their homosexuality.
The official coming-out did not occur until 2006. The title Taia gave the open letter, published in the French magazine Moroccan Telquel was “Homosexuality explained to my mother.” Taia justifies its decision explicitly what was so clear in his novels saying it was a need to “liberate the word gay in the Arab world” step.
I wrote that column I to understand that all people who do not read my literature, including my family. My relatives, some scholars, perhaps some cultural officials could save face by saying that the novels, was not: the comfortable refuge fictional character. I wanted to say, “That which I am aware. I do exist”.
With most of his brothers and his mother, who died two years later, reconciliation was a matter of time.
I am thinking all the time about my family and I love Taia says. Literature can not be done within the family rules. Why not repent-added.
Things have been less easy idolized his older brother, who is now a state official. The open letter just broke ties already weakened from Abdelkébir marriage, the mother of the family attributed to a spell. (In the novels of Taia, all women love a man are identified by the community as sluts or witches).
It’s the same with men. When one achieves a business attribute it to a spell. We live among sorcerers, spells and djins . That Morocco is part of who I am, but it is also true that a society that blame on supernatural forces always have trouble assumed.
The djins are not the only beings that govern the lives of Moroccans. Again and again Hassan II, the sovereign who ruled Morocco until his death in 1999, is presented as a supernatural figure who is loved with an almost physical way. The argument of the day of the King is the dispute that broke out between two schoolboys joined by an ambiguous friendship when one of them gets first place in the course and as a reward will kiss the hand of the monarch.
It was thanks to this novel that Taia won the Flore prize in 2010, and spent his consecration as a “French” award-winning author. The management of the real figure and the media attention that caused his open letter animosities have earned in their country. In May 2012, the Faculty of Arts at the University of El Jadida was surrounded by a group of Islamists protesting against the conduct of a study day dedicated to the work of Taia.
‘I do not feel threatened. People die of admiration for everything that comes from France and has published books as one here and won a prize, and believe that one has succeeded. That gives me some respectability. There are also those who believe that because I’m gay I’ll go dressed as a woman, I say: “I thought it was crazy.” Seeing me they are open to dialogue says, making clear that his case is an exception and life is still very hard for those who publicly acknowledged their homosexuality.
‘However, since the Arab Spring they have seen things I never would have thought possible. There is for example a group that publishes a gay newspaper and distributed in front of the train station in Rabat. They are boys and girls of just twenty years. I would not have had the courage to do it.
If in the Maghreb countries there is a breakthrough in France seems to have a setback. What about the demonstrations last year against the law of equal marriage? ‘I asked.
‘These people went out into the street now because he knows that things change and clings to what he can, but already in the past.
You’ve said you do not want to cut with Islam, how you live that duality between homosexuality and religion?
Before saying that Islam was ambiguous about it, but now, after much discussion with people who know the Qur’an and study on my own, I have radicalized a lot. There is no contradiction between Islam and homosexuality. Islam is a religion based on respect.
Although not officially campaigning in any partnership, Taia frequently collaborates with the Moroccan publications that advocate the recognition of gay and participate in discussions on the subject on both sides of the Mediterranean. He now lives in a studio near the Place de la Republique. He says he should have already passed the hardest part of his years in Paris and while here will never have the human bonds that wove in Morocco could not return home.
-Paris Is tough with those coming from outside, so do not come from abroad. All those young people who come from other regions of France also have to guerrearla here as those who are immigrants. Here I am alone, it is true, but that loneliness is a price I pay gladly be free.
-Inmigrante, Gay, Muslim, are you not afraid of the label ‘writer minority’?
‘I’m not into that, but I think the acceptance of homosexuality in Morocco is one facet of a larger battle, accepting what each person is like. I dream of Morocco as a place where people overcome the shame of being themselves. It is for that that I write, but I would help some headway in that direction.