Quartet Books, London, 1985. ISBN 0 7043 2465 2, 123pp, Hardback
AUC Press, Cairo and New York, 2009. ISBN 978 977 416 255 8, 180pp, Hardback, £16.99/$22.95
occupies more than eight pages in English translation (the longest of them, ironically, being entitled “Nothing”), and together they take up no more than 124 pages. Tightly scripted and economical with words, they are the polar opposite of the sort of sprawling novels that appear to have become the fashion in certain quarters recently.
The essential qualities of Tamer’s work, as well as some of its underlying themes, are well exemplified in the title stories of the two volumes, Tigers on the Tenth Day and The Hedgehog respectively. Tigers on the Tenth Day relates the story of a tiger brought in from the jungle and imprisoned in a cage, where his “trainer” over a period of ten days gradually breaks his will, using food as a weapon. Reduced to eating grass, the tiger is at first shocked by its taste, but gradually, of necessity, begins to find its taste pleasant. The allegorical nature of Tamer’s account is made explicit only in the story’s final sentence: “On the tenth day the trainer, [his] pupils, the tiger, and the cage disappeared – the tiger became a citizen and the cage a city”. By contrast, the novella, The Hedgehog, is narrated by a young boy,
BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 103
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