Ali Znaidi’s translation of Houyem Ferchichi’s short story “Or’s A’Dib” (“The Wolf’s Wedding”) appears this month, in issue 34 of the Australian journal The Lifted Brow. Znaidi, a poet and translator, shares
Ferchichi, a Tunisian literary journalist and short-story writer, has published her short stories and poems in numerous Tunisian and Arab literary magazines. She is the author of several short story collections, including The Scene and the Shadow, and Secret Tattoos, and has won both the Tunisian CREDIF Prize and Almothaqaf Shield for Culture, Literature, and Arts.
Znaidi shared his translator’s note, in which he writes that “Ferchichi has a fondness for short stories, which she often enriches with poetry, drawing, and cinema. She gives her fictional characters her confusion and existential questions, and explores her relationship with places and the way they live on in memory and are transformed by it.”
Her work departs from both Arabic and Tunisian feminist writing traditions in her choice not to write about isolation and fear of patriarchal society. Instead, her female characters have the courage to intrude into the realm of males. She gives us character studies that express social and political concerns in a unique style and have an intimate engagement with place.
An interesting part of this story is the deception at its heart: we think we are reading about a typical wedding, but instead it is a farce, a trap laid for the wolf man to put an end to his wolfish ways, his wickedness. The sun shower reference early on hints at trickery: You think rain is falling, but, in fact, there are only a few raindrops glittering with colours, while the sun is still shining.
When translating this story, I sought to capture Ferchichi’s play on these dichotomies. I also wanted to capture the story’s intricate flow. I have done my best to show the uniqueness of Ferchichi’s story and her style, exemplified in her rich diction and the dancing words she uses to evoke joy, something like the children who stamp the ground to express their mirth.
It was published by Locofo Chaps, which was a project dedicated to bringing out political chapbooks — as downloadable PDFs also available as $5 print on demand — during the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.
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