16 Feb / Blood Feast: The Complete Short Stories of Malika Moustadraf by Malika Moustadraf, translated by Alice Guthrie [in Shelf Awareness]
Blood Feast: The Complete Short Stories of Malika Moustadraf is a crystalline collection by defiant Moroccan writer Malika Moustadraf (Wounds of the Soul and the Body), who died in 2006 at 37. Moustadraf’s piercing 14 stories here, which challenge patriarchal expectations of gender and sexuality, barely fill 100 pages. Award-winning translator and professor Alice Guthrie enhances that brevity with extensive literary and historical context, providing a meaningful conduit to the work of “a gifted maverick writer in her ascendency.”
Moustadraf’s women struggle for agency in impossible situations. A discarded young wife can’t feed her baby in “Woman: A Djellaba and a Packet of Milk”; a daughter witnesses her violent father’s Saturday parade of women in “Thirty-Six”; marriage is a man’s transaction in “A Woman in Love, a Woman Defeated”; a passenger on an overcrowded bus is sexually abused in “Claustrophobia”; and wife-beating equals love in “A Day in the Life of a Married Man.” The titular “Blood Feast” – prefaced by a letter from Moustadraf to her sister, who donated a kidney to Moustradraf – expands into a diatribe against a corrupt medical system. “Just Different” features an intersex/trans protagonist – a rare surprise in Arab literature – struggling to live in the face of relentless persecution.
Referring to her work as “literary recovery of a foundational body of work that had all but disappeared,” Guthrie meticulously documents “Moustadraf’s vanguard status” in more than 50 pages of comprehensive backmatter that includes an essential afterword. Guthrie spent six years on this “first ever full-length translation of [Moustadraf’s] work.” Its overdue debut inspires further poignancy when Guthrie asks, “What would she have gone on to write had she survived?”
Discover: 14 stories by the late Moroccan author Malika Moustadraf challenge patriarchal expectations of gender and sexuality, enhanced by Alice Guthrie’s translation.