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Reviewed by Luwi Nyakansaila for Readers' Favorite
Kafka in Tangier by Mohammed Said Hjiouij is a modern retelling of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Jawad Al-Idrisi forsakes his dream of becoming a literary critic to become a teacher. His thoughtless father showed no remorse for his neglect and watched his son work tirelessly to provide for the entire family. One day, Jawad wakes up from a nightmare and discovers he has transformed into a hideous and smelly furry creature. This causes a commotion in their home and community. It also leads to his dismissal and the family falling on hard times. His loving sister Hind bears the brunt of it all. She takes care of her brother and the house, and to make things worse, her father forces her to drop out of school to work at a café and provide for the family. Unfortunately, her will is not strong enough, and she begins to crack.
If you are a fan of Kafka’s work, then you will enjoy reading Kafka in Tangier. The story has crazy twists and turns. Despite its bizarre nature, it covers life-changing lessons and themes of family love and sacrifice, discrimination, and societal standards. The story was flawlessly translated from Arabic to English. What I loved the most about this book is Mohammed Said Hjiouij’s narrative skills. He did not write the story chronologically. Instead, he provides a tiny glimpse into Jawad's life and each of his family members. He gradually builds on the mystery of what led to his transformation and fills the reader with intrigue. The ending left me in shock but I was impressed by how the author concluded the story. Brilliant writing.