For Bread Alone
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“A true story of human desperation, shattering in its impact.”—Tennessee Williams
Driven by famine from their home in the Rif, Mohamed’s family walks to Tangiers in search of a better life. But his father is unable to find work and grows violent. Mohamed learns how to charm and steal. During a short spell in a filthy Moroccan jail, a fellow inmate kindles his life-altering love of poetry.
The distinguished writer Paul Bowles, perhaps best known for his novel The Sheltering Sky, collaborated closely with Mohamed Choukri on the translation of For Bread Alone, and penned the introduction.
the more interesting they are, I thought. So she did not wash. Perhaps that was because she knew she was clean. And now, she did not grip me with her scissors, but merely lay there like a great tuna-fish. I had heard how the Prophet Jonah had been swallowed by a whale. She folded one leg under the other, and I looked between them, thinking that this was a strange position for her to take. But obligingly she let me kiss her lips. They tasted good. Suddenly she cried: Ay! Ay! Wait! We’ve got some
partner. I decided that this was probably not his real name. It might be only his business name. The path went on being difficult. Several times I stumbled into holes and scraped myself on the sharp rocks. You’ve got to be very careful not to fall once you’ve got the stuff on your back, he said. What we’re carrying is fragile. What could be in the cartons? I thought. Something breakable. What could that be? When we reached the strip of beach at the bottom of the cliffs he pulled a flashlight
going. During the entire ride no one spoke a word. From time to time the cargador sitting to the right of me coughed and sniffed violently. We took the road past the animal cemetery by the river at Boubana. When we got to the crossroads by the Spanish Cemetery both cars stopped, and Qaabil got out. The driver of the other car came over. Qaabil spoke to our driver. Take them wherever they want to go. He handed me the key. Go to the shack, and don’t open up for anybody but el Kebdani. The other
the Jews not to emigrate to Palestine? The tide and the current were very strong, and the wind was coming up. Suddenly Boussouf’s oar cracked in half. Only the handle remained. Now we’re in trouble, I said. Pfu! All this for your three thousand francs! he cried. It’s not my fault. The waves had begun to spill into the boat. Listen, I said. You take care of bailing it out. I’ll tie the other oar at the stern and try to steer. The current is taking us towards El Menar. We’ll hit the rocks
me from behind. Outside, Zailachi! I cried. The man behind me let me go. Be sensible, Grida told me. This is no way to behave to somebody like him. Who does he think he is here? He’s just a student who couldn’t stay in school, and now he’s come to Tangier to live like a tramp. I saw Mesari and someone else going up to the roof with Abdelmalek. I walked back to my table, and Afiouna sat down with me. He filled the sebsi, lit it, and handed it to me, saying: Here. Take it and smoke. It’ll make