On Ahmed Bouanani’s ‘The Hospital’

Chris Clarke at The Quarterly Conversation:

Like Bouanani’s memories of his childhood rue de Monastir, The Hospital is fastened securely to Morocco, even if it floats above it in a haze of time and space. Vergnaud expresses this endemic connection between lexicon and place succinctly: “The taxonomy of flora and fauna, smells and tastes, saints and legends permeates The Hospital,” she writes, meaning of course the one in Bouanani’s novel, and Bouanani’s novel itself. “With amnesia as the disease, and time itself in question, Bouanani delights in naming things—weeping willows and cyclamen flowers, prickly pears and esparto grass, Sidi bel Abbas and the two-horned Alexander—to anchor his character’s memories and dream lives.” Vergnaud’s lexical choices in these instances affect her reader in a slightly different way that do Bouanani’s, as the local implications can’t necessary cross the gap, but in the end, the result is quite similar: these precisely vague choices tie us to a Morocco we can’t reach, much as they connect the in-patients to a Morocco that is fragmentary, inaccessible, and lost in the past.

more here.