Taïa grew up in a family with 9 siblings in Salé, Morocco. He first came into contact with literature through his father, who was a janitor at the local library in Rabat. As a gay teenager, he was confronted with the homophobia and machismo in Moroccan society.
He studied French literature while living in Rabat. During the mid-1990s he left Morocco for Switzerland in order to study for a semester in Geneva. He later studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.
In 2007 he publicly came out of the closet in an interview with the literary magazine TelQuel, which created controversy in Morocco.
Taïa's books deal with his life living in a homophobic society and have autobiographical background on the social experiences of the generation of Moroccans who came of age in the 1980s and 1990s.
Salvation Army (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents) by Abdellah Taïa
Series: Semiotext(e) / Native Agents
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Semiotext(e); 1 edition (March 27, 2009)
Amazon: Salvation Army
An autobiographical novel by turn naïve and cunning, funny and moving, this most recent work by Moroccan expatriate Abdellah Taïa is a major addition to the new French literature emerging from the North African Arabic diaspora. Salvation Army is a coming-of-age novel that tells the story of Taïa's life with complete disclosure--from a childhood bound by family order and latent (homo)sexual tensions in the poor city of Salé, through an adolescence in Tangier charged by the young writer's attraction to his eldest brother, to a disappointing arrival in the Western world to study in Geneva in adulthood. In so doing, Salvation Army manages to burn through the author's first-person singularity to embody the complex mélange of fear and desire projected by Arabs on Western culture. Recently hailed by his native country's press as "the first Moroccan to have the courage to publicly assert his difference," Taïa, through his calmly transgressive work, has "outed" himself as "the only gay man" in a country whose theocratic law still declares homosexuality a crime. The persistence of prejudices on all sides of the Mediterranean and Atlantic makes the translation of Taïa's work both a literary and political event. The arrival of Salvation Army (published in French in 2006) in English will be welcomed by an American audience already familiar with a growing cadre of talented Arab writers working in French (including Muhammad Dib, Assia Djebar, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Abdelkebir Khatibi, and Katib Yasin).
More Spotlights at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Lists/Gay Novels
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