Silence on the Shores
depicts the final day in the life of a Maghrebian immigrant in France. Having crossed the Mediterranean to "the other shore" as a young man to find work, he ultimately remained in France, married a French woman, and broke the promise he made to his mother to return home one day. Aware that death is drawing close, he fears experiencing the ultimate form of exile: dying alone, with no fellow Muslim at his side to whisper the customary prayer for the dead in his ear.
Leïla Sebbar’s minimalist style deftly and powerfully conveys the simplicity of everyday life on both shores of the Mediterranean. Interweaving several monologues, she examines multiple facets of exile and the role of memory in easing its pain.
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Number of pages: 79
Weight: 113 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
"Tracing the last day in the life of an Algerian immigrant in France, this elliptical novel tackles big themes, such as death, a child's responsibility to his parents, and cultural displacement. The unnamed protagonist left his native Algeria as a young man, promising his devout mother that he would one day return, a promise he failed to keep... Sebbar's stream-of-consciousness narrative steadily gathers momentum throughout the novel, so that by the end, the impact of this man's life is devastatingly felt by the reader." Booklist "French-Algerian writer Sebbar's limpid 1983 novella weaves backward and forward in time and space to depict the discordant thoughts and painful memories that flood through the consciousness of an Algerian (Mahgrebian) immigrant who's dying--far from the "shores" of his homeland, in France--on the first day of summer. Skillful deployment of images of separation and death and a vivid piecemeal picture of traditional Moorish culture." Kirkus Reviews "This work resembles a prose poem or a fantasy, the narrative flowing smoothly from one character to another, never revealing whether each story is real or simply in the main character's imagination. Legend coexists with reality as people who normally rely on reason and fact cling to ancient beliefs and stories when death arrives...Recommended" Library Journal "Leila Sebbar writes in a beautiful, poetic style that reinforces the main themes of this short novel--the fractured identity of the immigrant, the desperate and conflicted feelings of exile and loss, and the resulting decentered or pluralistic version of the self as other,. Mildred Mortimer has done an excellent job translating this allusive text. . Silence on the Shores will be of great interest to anyone teaching courses in cultural studies, gender studies, and post-colonial studies." South Atlantic Review