Tea in the Harem


After a two month hiatus, due in part to the presidential election and podcasts, I am finally back in the saddle again. Over the past few days, I finally finished Morocco Since 1830 and then Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Saleh. I am now about half way into Medhi Charef’s Tea in the Harem, the first “beur” novel in France. There is a rawness to Charef’s novel that reminds me of that of Ryu Murakami’s Almost Transparent Blue and Coin Locker Babies, though Charef’s main character is a bit more empathetic. Perhaps, though, any attempt that Charef might have had back when the story was first published in 1983 to shock French society no longer feels so shocking today. On the other hand, Saleh’s 1969 Season of Migration to the North is much fresher and more poignant today.


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