Translated by Ed Emery

9781846590276 May 2007 Paperback 224pp

About the Book

At the age of twenty Mohamed Choukri takes takes the momentous decision to learn to read and write, and joins a children’s class at the local state school in Tangier.

When not at school he hangs out in cafés, drinking and smoking kif. Some nights he sleeps in a doss-house, but mostly he sleeps in mosques or on the street. He befriends many ‘lowlife’ characters, while the café habitués help him with his Arabic and the local prostitutes take him home, providing some human solace.

Choukri’s determination to educate himself, and his compassion for those with whom he shares his life on the streets is heartfelt and inspirational.

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.


'Choukri is a powerful teller of stories. His telling of oppression is vivid and remarkable.'
Morning Star

'As a writer, he is in an enviable position, though he paid a high price for it in suffering.'
Paul Bowles

'Choukri's irrepressible, ultimately indomitable spirit is most touching and human.'

'Refreshingly, Choukri does not succumb to the romantic musings or sense of self-satisfaction that characterise most stories of triumph over adversity. His tale is made compelling by the characters he meets along the way.'
New Statesman

'Streetwise is suffused with honesty and compassion and crammed full of human warmth and kindness even in the most adverse circumstances. It stands as a testament both to the author and to those he lived among and wrote about; the forgotten, the despised and the downtrodden.'
New Internationalist