The latest news about Abdelkader Benali.
Abdelkader Benali (1975) was born in Ighazzazen, Morocco, and has lived in The Netherlands since 1979. He studied history in Leiden and now lives in Amsterdam. As well as Wedding by the Sea and The Long-Awaited, Benali has also written the very successful theatre plays The unlucky one and Yasser, and published the story collection Reports from Maanzaad Town.
Feldman and I
Benali’s new novel is about the search for perfect doppelganger. The main character lives in a world that is slowly falling apart and which he tries to give form to. He goes through sexual, emotional and other radical adventures and with each new experience comes ever greater confusion. He fantasizes about his vanished friend Feldman, a charismatic figure whose mysterious disappearance haunts him. But his search for him eventually leads him to his own disappearance. The identification with another in the end creates dislocation but also creates a new world in which we can perhaps tolerate the other. It’s a book about tolerance of others, fascination for others and the difficulty of dealing with others.
May the Sun Shine Tomorrow (Laat het morgen mooi weer zijn)
Malik Ben is at a turning point in his life. Though his career is flourishing, he feels the need for a change. Before taking this momentous step, however, he thinks back to 1995, the year his father sent him on a cruise that changed his life forever.Malik, the son of political refugees, grew up in the Netherlands, where he was torn between a demanding mother, who railed against the dictatorial regime of her homeland, and an opportunistic father, who embraced the capitalist way of life—especially the fun it had to offer.
After his mother’s death, Malik finds himself aboard the S.S. Latina, whose faded glory serves as a backdrop to a shipboard romance with an elderly, elegant and witty Spanish widow. Carmen Lopez de la Madrid seduces him and tells him her story, which takes him back to the dark days of the Spanish Civil War.
Carmen also fled her country. Unlike Malik’s father, however, who left because he was an informer, Carmen had been smuggled out of Franco’s Spain with the help of a handsome but mysterious Moor. Unfortunately, the Moor failed to keep his promise to locate her long-lost brother, a soldier in Franco’s army. Now, after all these years, she sets off on a special mission: to find her brother in Tangier.
Thanks to her journey and her story, not to mention their affair, Malik gains insight into himself, his parents, his roots and the world around him. When he finally pays a visit to the North African country his parents left behind, his perspective on life and death undergoes a dramatic change. By the end of the cruise, the S.S. Latina has worked its magic: Malik’s memories, his parents’ secrets and Carmen’s tales have been turned into a spellbinding adventure.
The Long-Awaited (De langverwachte)
‘It’s this gift that compels me to come out, with a glance at the clock and a glance at the road I’ll have to travel, the people I’ll have to meet, introduce, and then like an infallible sharpshooter clear out of the way again, however dear they are to me; people I must allow to get older, to grow, so that I myself can stay young for ever. And so it is that we go on our way, the gift and me.’
The Long-Awaited is an unborn child on New Year’s Eve, who, narrating from the womb of his young mother, Diana Doorn, observes his family assemble to witness his birth. His father is Mehdi Ajoeb, son of Driss Ajoeb, erstwhile butcher and a man pathologically incapable of passing his driving test, and Malika, the tea-addict. The child tells of how Mehdi’s secret love for Diana is revealed one hallucinogenic night: the moment of his conception.
The Long-Awaited is a family story in which characters interfere and interact with one another, and successive generations dispute their differences. A literary roller-coaster in which belief and disbelief follow each other as night follows day, this is a light-footed tale about wedding dresses that refuse to get married, an unsellable butcher’s shop that is somehow sold all the same, and the narrator’s godfather, a man who can only fall asleep after he has seen fireworks.