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The African Shore

The African Shore

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    The African Shore
    Book Description:

    In the vein of the writings of Paul Bowles, Paul Theroux, and V. S. Naipaul,The African Shoremarks a major new installment in the genre of dystopic travel fiction. Rodrigo Rey Rosa, prominent in today's Guatemalan literary world and an author of growing international reputation, presents a tale of alienation, misrecognition, and intrigue set in and around Tangier. He weaves a double narrative involving a Colombian tourist pleasurably stranded in Morocco and a young shepherd who dreams of migrating to Spain and of "riches to come." At the center of their tale is an owl both treasured and coveted.

    The author addresses the anxiety, distrust, and potential for violence that characterize the border of all borders: the strait that divides Africa and Europe, where the waters of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic meet. His often-remarked prose style, at once rich and spare, endows his work with remarkable elegance. Rey Rosa generates a powerful reality within his imagined world, and he maintains a narrative tension to the haunting conclusion, raising small and large questions that linger in the reader's mind long after the final page.

    With an Afterword by Jeffrey Gray

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19909-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [ix]-[x])

    • THE COLD
      (pp. 3-18)

      It was still dark when Hamsa got up, and the wind out of the east was whistling over the cliff face, rattling the branches and leaves like a thousand maracas. He could hear the waves crashing violently on the rocks at the foot of the cliff. He finished his ablutions, then knelt to pray on the skin of a sheep slaughtered at the last Aid el Kebir. He brewed a glass of tea on his small brazier, broke open a dark round loaf of bread, and dunked a piece of it in a dish of olive oil. “In God’s name,”...

      (pp. 19-24)

      The garden was deserted now. A crane, very white in the afternoon sun, had perched next to the Nazarene’s lion’s-head fountain. It flew off when Hamsa walked down the path toward the guest house. Hamsa circled the house, came up to a window, and peered inside. He saw an owl perched on the back of a chair with a carpet of newspapers spread under it. The owl, which had a fallen wing, seemed to be asleep. Hamsa tapped the pane with his finger. The owl turned its head around and looked at him.

      “Yuuk,” the owl said to Hamsa. “Yuuk.”...


    • SKULLS
      (pp. 27-106)

      A sharp pain at the top of his head made him open his eyes. He rolled over in the sheets, remembering he was in a hotel called Atlas but unable to remember where he’d spent the last hours of the night before.

      Those recent memories were lost forever in a hole of black light, but he knew that, once again, he had had too much to drink. Shaking his head no, he sat up on the edge of the bed. He picked up the phone to call his traveling mates, Victor and Ulysses, but they didn’t answer. The receptionist told...

      (pp. 107-116)

      My dear love,

      I’m writing you on a computer to save space. What a bother this passport stuff is, and it’s stretching out the time till we can be together! I went to the embassy and spoke with the first secretary. Monday they’ll tell me something, but they’ve warned me the paperwork can take a long time. It literally makes my heart sink just to think of it.

      I told your uncle. He’s not happy, you know him—always so distrustful. He says he’s going to dock your pay for every day you miss. If you weren’t one of his...


    • FLIGHT
      (pp. 119-136)

      It was clear that whoever was following him had slipped through Spanish customs. The smugglers did it all the time; everyone knew it. It had been a mistake to accept Rashid’s proposition. Even if he had been offered ten percent of the money, it would have been a mistake.

      He was almost sure it was one of the Moroccans he had seen filling out the betting cards with Rashid. Now, while the Spanish recruits were getting noisily drunk on beer and homesickness, the Moroccan was playing pinball at the other end of the Bodegas Melilla.

      He picked up his beer...

  6. NOTES
    (pp. 137-138)
  7. AFTERWORD: Rodrigo Rey Rosa and Tangier
    (pp. 139-146)

    Most of Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s fifteen books of fiction are set in Guatemala; the exceptions areNingún lugar sagrado(1998), a collection of nine short stories set in New York City;The Good Cripple(1996, translated into English in 2004), set in Guatemala and Morocco;Que me maten si… (1996), set in Guatemala, London, and Paris; and this book,The African Shore(La orilla africana, 1999), Rey Rosa’s only novel set in Tangier.

    To utter the word “Tangier” in a literary context is to invoke the American writer Paul Bowles, who lived in that city from the 1950s until...

  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 147-147)