Driven by famine from their home in the Rif, Mohamed’s family walks to Tangiers in search of a better life. But things are no better there. Eight of Mohamed’s siblings die of malnutrition and neglect, and one is killed by Mohamed’s father in a fit of rage.
On moving to another province Mohamed learns how to charm and steal, and discovers the joys of drugs, sex and alcohol. Proud, insolent and afraid of no-one, Mohamed returns to Tangiers, where he is caught up in the violence of the 1952 independence riots. During a short spell in a filthy Moroccan jail, a fellow inmate kindles Mohamed’s life-altering love of literature.
A cult classic, For Bread Alone is an astonishing tale of human resilience and an unflinching and searing portrait of the early life of one of the Arab world’s most important and widely read authors.
About the Author
Mohamed Choukri is one of North Africa's most controversial and widely read authors. At the age of twenty he decided to learn to read and write classical Arabic. He went on to become a teacher and writer, finally being awarded the chair of Arabic Literature at Ibn Batuta College in Tangier.
About the Translator
Born in New York in 1910, Paul Bowles is considered one of the most remarkable American authors of the twentieth century. He studied music with composer Aaron Copland before moving to Tangier, Morocco, with his wife, Jane. His first novel, The Sheltering Sky, was a bestseller in the 1950s and was made into a film by Bernardo Bertolucci in 1990. Bowles's prolific career included many musical compositions, novels, collections of short stories, and books of travel, poetry, and translations. His novels include The Spider's Nest, Up Above The World, and Let It Come Down.
'A true document of human desperation, shattering in its impact.'
'A masterpiece ... A book to read, cherish and remember – and to show us again why we need books as well as bread.'
'[An] extraordinarily vivid, uncensored immediacy ... Using only undemonstrative prose, and asking for no special sympathy, Choukri conveys the experience of struggling to survive in a harsh world of dusty streets and unforgiving sunlight.'
Nicolas Clee, Guardian
'Five stars ... Achingly elegant ... Choukri's irrepressible, ultimately indomitable spirit is most touching and human.'
'Richly descriptive and engaging ... An enjoyable and worthwhile read.'