THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF ZAKARIA TAMER
edly read, in much the same way as with stories by Poe, Čapek, Andrić, Borges and Bierce. Above all, Tamer’s allegories can be compared with Fantastic Fables – a comparison which only serves to honour Bierce, a man who is three-quarters of a century older and has been celebrated for more than a century. Entirely coincidentally, he can also be linked to this American troublemaker through a certain cynicism, a preference for morbid outcomes and virtuoso dialogues.
Already in his first works, Tamer exceeded all his compatriots with the prodigious density of his prose expression and the purity of his style, which has not been surpassed in Arab literature to this day. To a great extent, his linguistic expression is reminiscent of the simplistic but also succinct language found in fairy tales, fables and holy scriptures. He creates symbols out of everything his magical pen touches, his vocabulary is sifted through seven sieves, his sentences are quick and as clear as teardrops, his paragraphs are short, his expression is classical and strict but also modern, engineered out of typical symbols verging on the cliché. There is not a trace of the usual linguistic exhibitionism which Arabs are so easily addicted to. Consequently, all Tamer’s texts are linguistically perfectly transparent – so clear and pure that the very act of translating it engenders a solemn feeling in the soul, just like the reverence felt in the presence of some sort of great, unexpected truth.
Still lively and with an agile mind, having already entered the ninth decade of his life, Zakaria Tamer continues to write his unique satirical short prose and political commentary. Nowadays these are printed less frequently in the Arabic-language newspapers published in Europe. Instead, offering passionate support to the Syrian antiregime movement that began in Spring 2011 (naturally its liberal rather than clerical-extremist wing), he uploads them onto his Facebook page under the symbolic name Mahmâz (= the spur).
Translated from the Serbian by Edward Alexander
82 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015