Monarch of the Square
An Anthology of Muhammad Zafzaf’s Short Stories
Translated from the Arabic by Mbarek Sryfi and Roger Allen
"Zafzaf offers visions of Moroccan culture and its traditions in an easygoing style that is well-nigh incomparable."—World Literature Today
"A dazzling array of the most unlikely of literary heroes. It is a welcome first introduction to Zafzaf’s writing in translation; we can only hope that more will follow."—Journal for the Society of Contemporary Thought and Islamicate World
"The translation remains faithful to the original
while at the same time it preserves a certain
local color, an accent of sorts that conveys the
Moroccan flavors of the stories. This anthology
helps to fill a huge gap in the library of Arabic
literature in translation."—William Granara, Center for Middle Eastern Studies,
"The stories provide key insights and commentary on social and cultural
transformations in the modern Moroccan scene and offer profound
reflections on the human condition. They reflect Zafzaf’s concern with
many issues that are still poignantly current today, such as: how individuals
struggle to survive, how they cope with social marginalization
and disillusionment, and how one can navigate identity in a world of
often conflicting and paradoxical realities."—Ahmed Idrissi Alami, Purdue University
Muhammad Zafzaf (1945–2001) was one of the most prominent writers of the Maghreb.
The author of dozens of novels and short stories, Zafzaf was celebrated for his innovative, modernist, and aesthetic literature rooted in the detailed daily anxieties of the ordinary Moroccan.
Mbarek Sryfi is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and an adjunct assistant professor
at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey. His translations have appeared in
CELAAN, Metamorphos, World Literature Today, and Banipal.
Roger Allen is Sascha Jane Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative
Ethics, School of Arts and Sciences, and professor emeritus of Arabic and comparative literature
at the University of Pennsylvania.
Book Description »[Hide »]
A master of the short story form, Muhammad Zafzaf is one of Morocco’s greatest
narrative writers. This anthology, the first collection of his work translated
into English, is a tribute to the remarkable influence he exerted on an entire
generation of Moroccan storytellers.
Zafzaf’s stories are set within a variety of contexts, each portraying a slice
of life, a simple struggle for survival in a challenging world that is changing
at a rapid pace. Narrative time is reduced to a single glimpse in these stories,
full of irony, sarcasm, and sympathy. He covers all aspects of Moroccan life,
from remote rural villages to modern cities. The stories in this collection explore
the various myths, beliefs, and traditions that operate within Moroccan culture,
questioning them from a distance in an easy, conversational manner that is the
hallmark of Zafzaf’s style.
View other series books on Middle East Literature in Translation.
6 x 9, 280 pages