Moroccan writer Salma Mokhtar Amanat Allah recently signed her second novel ‘Omar the Stranger’ at the Rabat International Book Fair. The signing ceremony was followed by a seminar moderated by critic and novelist Hassan Abido, and attended by writer and critic Said Yaktin, and researcher Said al-Fallaq, at the national library.
The character of ‘Omar, the Stranger’ has an exceptional, weird personality combining all human contradictions, oppression, and mental trouble. In this novel, Omar is the dead narrator who showcases a journey full of pain, and human atrocity.
The novel represents a symbolic trial of a society that excludes its members, and depicts the ugliness dominating reality through a protagonist that resembles no one but his self, which is controlled by disturbance, burden, and obsession. The narrator in Salma’s novel is a doctor but narrates as a dead body. This novel simulates the human depths to deliver a human speech in a creative style. Using a dead body for narration, the author probably wanted to denounce the human values swallowed by the digital invasion, and the deterioration of family, and educational and pedagogic institutions; it’s also a condemnation to the mass estrangement that has affected everybody.
During the seminar, speakers lauded the eloquence and romance of the language, and the power of description used by the author.
Writer Said Yaqtin suggested other titles for the book, including ‘Apricot Sandwich’, ‘Orchid Flower’, and ‘Omar Killed me’ to emphasize the state of destruction and nonbelonging that characterizes the personality of Omar. But the author said she preferred her title to express the estrangement state that destroys Omar despite his respected social status as a doctor. The ‘Omar, the Stranger’ novel also reflects an essential idea: the importance of training on death as an ending point, sometimes halting the things we do as living people to correct our path, and practicing mental purification to embark again in life.
“Omar wrote me, I didn’t write him. He’s the real narrator, he recalls his disappointments, collapses, and contradictions without a template,” Salma said. The novel does not include chapters, it’s written with a flowing style and without classifications.
The 273-page novel is released by the Cultural Center of Books. Amanat Allah already published her first novel in 2018, and a story collection titled ‘TGV’ in 2016.