Book Review: A descent into an abyss of darkness, dreams and forgotten pasts

Updated 01 August 2018
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Book Review: A descent into an abyss of darkness, dreams and forgotten pasts

  • Originally written in French in 1990, The Hospital fell into oblivion until Bouanani’s death in 2011
  • Bouanani’s novel is a descent into an abyss of darkness, dreams, forgotten pasts, mythological anecdotes, religious fervor, and unknown illness

Ahmed Bouanani’s complex but provocative novel The Hospital does not serve the living but the dead. When not being treated, patients wander the halls, interact, and attempt to navigate the expanse of the hospital while Bouanani’s nameless narrator writes down all he sees. Eventually, the line between their realities and nightmares fade, and the hospital gate disappears, making it a prison they can never leave. 

Originally written in French in 1990, The Hospital fell into oblivion until Bouanani’s death in 2011. It was not until 2012, when his novel was reprinted in France and Morocco, that it received great acclaim. It was translated into English by Lara Vergnaud and published by New Directions Books in 2018. 

Bouanani’s novel is a descent into an abyss of darkness, dreams, forgotten pasts, mythological anecdotes, religious fervor, and unknown illness. When Bouanani’s narrator first walks into the hospital, he assumes that he must have been alive because he can still “smell the scents of a city” on his skin. 

The narrator meets porters, shopkeepers, and unemployed patients. He meets smugglers and thugs and “the rejects of inexplicable wars and an aborted nationalist resistance, farm boys without land or bread, left behind by chance like febrile castaways with a cargo of off-seasons and coarse languages.” Nevertheless, the patients come together in Wing C, donning their blue pajamas and feasting together for their last remaining days. 

Bouanani’s text overflows with descriptions of Morocco’s landscape and the depth of its history with clarity in a text riddled with vague and dreamlike characters and their delusions and stories that are indistinguishable as real memories or fantasized pasts. 

The characters are reminiscent of the marginalized, says translator Vergnaud, and the forgotten, “first by a colonial regime and later a bureaucratic and oppressive new state.”

Bouanani’s novel seems like a Kafkaesque novel at first, but it is layered with decades of insight into social and political changes. 


Where We Are Going Today: Cat Chic, where cats get their hair done

Updated 26 April 2019
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Where We Are Going Today: Cat Chic, where cats get their hair done

  • After a session at Cat Chic my cat came back looking smarter than ever

It is never easy to entrust your beloved cat to strangers, yet grooming is important for feline health and looks, and is best done by professionals.

There are none so professional as the staff at Jeddah’s Cat Chic. The staff are helpful and accommodating, and the exclusive salon provides vital services such as bathing, flea treatments, hair trimming and shaving.

My cat had badly matted hair. It was impossible to detangle, but after a session at Cat Chic my cat came back looking smarter than ever.

The interior of the salon is beautiful and it features a cat playground, which gives the cats a chance to socialize.

Cat Chic also sells amazing products that allow you to take care of your cat at home and dress them up with funky collars and adorable clothes.

Located in Al-Rawdah district, Cat Chic is a cat-grooming salon you can trust. If you have any grooming needs for your cat, you should definitely visit.