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Talk of Darkness

Talk of Darkness
Translated by Mustapha Kamal and Susan Slyomovics

The gripping memoir of a Moroccan human rights and women’s rights activist.

Series: CMES Modern Middle East Literatures in Translation

Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin
December 2008
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120 pages | 5.5 x 8.5 |

Fatna El Bouih was first arrested in Casablanca as an 18-year-old student leader with connections to the Marxist movement. Over the next decade she was rearrested, forcibly disappeared, tortured, and transferred between multiple prisons. While imprisoned, she helped organize a hunger strike, completed her undergraduate degree in sociology, and began work on a Master's degree.

Beginning with the harrowing account of her kidnapping during the heightened political tension of the 1970s, Talk of Darkness tells the true story of one woman's struggle to secure political prisoners' rights and defend herself against an unjust imprisonment.

Poetically rendered from Arabic into English by Mustapha Kamal and Susan Slyomovics, Fatna El Bouih's memoir exposes the techniques of state-instigated "disappearance" in Morocco and condemns the lack of laws to protect prisoners' basic human rights.

  • Author's Dedication
  • Translators' Introduction
  • Chronology
  • Chapter 1. Derb, the Secret Prison: "Or the Narrative of Suffering"
  • Chapter 2.
  • Chapter 3.
  • Chapter 4.
  • Chapter 5.
  • Chapter 6. Behind the Walls of Ghbila: The Trip to Meknes Prison
  • Chapter 7.
  • Chapter 8.
  • Chapter 9. Diary of a Hunger Striker: "Imposed Violence"
  • Chapter 10. A Night's Sojourn in Laalou Prison
  • Chapter 11. Trial Day
  • Chapter 12. The Inseparable Twosome
  • Chapter 13. An Incredible Visit
  • Chapter 14. "The Minaret Collapsed and They Hanged the Barber"
  • Chapter 15. Season of Spring, Life, and Happiness
  • Chapter 16. A Prisoner Gives Birth to a Free Person
  • Chapter 17. Ilham: Despairing Screams, Suppressed Grief
  • Chapter 18. Shards of Time in the Life of a Woman Prisoner
  • Chapter 19. The Autumn of a Life without Spring
  • Chapter 20. The Prison House of the Woman Jailer in Sidi Kacem
  • Chapter 21. The Prison that Was a Refuge after the Isolation in
  • Police Stations: Testimony of Widad Bouab
  • Chapter 22. The Police Station, Torture, Prison, and Torturers:
  • Testimony of Latifa Jbabdi
  • Notes

Fatna El Bouih went on to become a high school teacher after her release from prison and continues to devote herself to human rights. She is one of the founders of the first shelter for battered women in Casablanca and works for released prisoners' reintegration into society and the abolition of the death penalty in Morocco.

Mustapha Kamal is Assistant Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He himself was a political prisoner in Morocco.

Susan Slyomovics is Professor of Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA. She has written extensively on the Middle East and North Africa.