Zabor, or The Psalms

Other. Mar. 2021. 384p. tr. from French by Emma Ramadan. ISBN 9781635420142. pap. $17.99. F
After his scorching debut, The Meursault Investigation, Algerian novelist/journalist Daoud returns with something different, more lyrical and interior, yet equally ambitious. In a village touched by the hot winds of the Sahara, Zabor, as he calls himself (meaning “psalm” in Arabic), sustains the ailing by writing: “I delayed their deaths by describing, at length, the powerful eucalyptus trees and the patient nesting of storks on our minarets.” Throughout, Zabor is clearly celebrating literature as he meditates on his life and world, using “a foreign language that…preserved the prestige of the former colonizers,” yet which he appreciates, despite its associations, as a way of seeing anew. The narrative emerges as an affecting portrait of an outsider who defines his own meaning; book-obsessed, with his mother gone and his mocking father having abandoned him, Zabor is the village oddball—until he’s begged to save his dying father’s life by exercising his gift.
VERDICT An original work for all book lovers.
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