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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF ZAKARIA TAMER

thing he touches turns to transparent, primordial images. The reader’s soul is immediately possessed by his images of a world of brutality, horror and humiliation, the gallows and the forbidden. But whilst this X-ray reveals a world and a life governed by perverse logic down to the marrow, in the same way, and with the greatest affection, Tamer also writes about human kindness – where it exists. Innocence, kindness and tenderness are, for him, sacrosanct. He nurtures stories of between one and five pages because he is most economic in his use of space. His words, in the strict organisation of their fixed symbols and exchangeable images, express what for others would require whole books.

There is plenty that can be deemed scenic in Tamer’s stories – virtually all could serve as a ready-made script for a short film or sometimes even a feature film. In the Western world, which is so focused upon the promotion of attractions for mass consumption and trendy hits from exotic lands, narcissistically partial to its own cultural accomplishments, and often laden with contempt for a Middle East which largely lags behind, the fact that nobody has made at least a film omnibus of Tamer’s most dramatic stories might be attributable to the fact that few have thought to peer deeper into the works of an Arab satirist who, above all, has not written a single novel.

Tamer is absolutely unpredictable in terms of plot. He leads his stories logically in a technical sense, but nobody can foresee which thought he will strike with at the very next moment! With one swift move, from a situation consisting of bare reality, he transports his characters to a world of fantasy, then from the most fantastic of places he casts them back into reality without any notice, and we do not sense anything artificial in this whatsoever. Nor does the reader notice when he is entangled in a magical web of Tamer’s traps and, only when reaching the end of the story, does he realise, as if in an amazing dream, that he has been taken far beyond everything he could have hoped for. That which has been known over the last thirty years as magical realism, for which Latin American writers are most deserving, has been produced quite spontaneously since the late 1950s by a pen writing from right to left – that of Tamer.

The strength of Tamer’s expression means that, despite their often morbid subject matter, his books are jealously guarded and repeat-

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 81

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