Fiction. African & African American Studies. Poetry. Drama. Middle Eastern Studies. Translated by Pierre Joris and Jake Syersak. AGADIR is loosely based on the earthquake which devastated the Moroccan city of the same name in 1960, and Khaïr-Eddine's experience as a civil servant assigned to investigate the aftermath of the cataclysm between 1961 and 1963. An unnamed narrator sent to the city "in order to sort out a particularly precarious situation" tells the story of a veritably razed Moroccan epicenter and a citizenry begging for reconstruction and reimagination. In a surreal, polyphonic narration that explodes into various tesserae of fiction, autobiography, reportage, poetry, and theatre, the narrator quickly discovers that in exhuming the city's physical remnants he cannot help but exhume the complex social, political, cultural, and historical dynamics that make up postcolonial Moroccan society. The mysterious narrator, increasingly besieged by hallucinations of the past and visions of the future, comes to incarnate what Albert Memmi once called "the role of the colonized," and to suffer "a magnified vision of all the ambiguities and impossibilities of those colonized." To which Khaïr-Eddine appends his envisioned role of the writer: one who uses his magnified vision to transform his very life into "an investigation, a fight against all forms of oppression and repression" until his "literature is a beautiful weapon."
Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine was born in 1941 near Tafraout, Southern Morocco, of Berber heritage. One of the major Francophone avant-garde poets of his generation, he is especially well-renowned for his "guerrilla linguistic," an incendiary, Surrealist-inspired, insurrectionary style of writing. AGADIR, his first full-length work, won the Jean Cocteau "Enfants terribles" prize in 1968 and was followed by numerous works of prose, poetry, and drama, including Corps négatif suivi de Histoire d'un bon dieu (1968), Soleil arachnide (1969) Moi, l'aigre (1970), Le Déterreur (1973), Une odeur de mantèque (1976), and Résurrection des fleurs sauvages (1981). One of the co-founders (with Abdellatif Laâbi) of the magazine Anfas/Souffles (Breaths), he lived in self-exile in France from 1965, returning to Morocco only in 1979. He died in Rabat on November 18, 1995, Independence Day in Morocco. Author City: PARIS FRA
Jake Syersak is the author of the poetry books Mantic Compost and YIELD ARCHITECTURE. He is also the translator of several books by Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine. The recipient of a 2021 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, his poetry and translations have appeared in such journals as Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, Conjunctions, and elsewhere. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and a PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Georgia.