Synopses & Reviews
The violence of war is rendered immediate and vividly personal in this powerful book by one of North Africa’s premier writers and intellectuals. The human devastation wrought upon Iraqis in the Gulf War and upon Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories is captured in a quietly unrelenting, essential act of remembering that balances lyricism with horror.
Tahar Ben Jelloun, poet, novelist, and professor, was born and raised in Fez, Morocco, and has lived and worked in France since 1971. Winner of the Prix Goncourt in 1987, he is the author of numerous works of fiction, poetry, and critique.
"This is the book many of us, heartsick over the wastes of war, have been waiting for. How such elegant, calming awareness healing in its careful attention and deliberate momentum can spring from the tragedies of excruciating loss, is the wonder of poetry. Readers will feel grateful to Tahar Ben Jelloun for his loving conscience and generous focus. Cullen Goldblatt has rendered an exacting and graceful translation. Somehow, with no stridency, but with immense and thoughtful sorrow, a compassionate gaze and an urgency deep as all forgotten, precious worlds, Tahar Ben Jelloun creates the holy land of remembrance. A brilliant and necessary poet and text." Naomi Shihab Nye, author of 19 Varieties of Gazelle
"The Rising of the Ashes is exquisite poetry in both French and English. The writer and his translator have found an economy of words that speaks, as few other languages could, to the silence that follows massacre. Goldblatt's translation renders with eloquence and empathy the soul of Ben Jelloun’s original. The English echoes the French in a rich and rare exchange a dialogue between two powerful texts." Dominique Malaquais, Senior Researcher, CNRS / Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
“In The Rising of the Ashes, North African author Tahar Ben Jelloun tracks the tragedy of two Middle Eastern wars in two precisely calibrated verse collections. The first, about 1991’s Gulf War, includes poems with lines such as ‘Our speech fell into the grave / there are no longer words / only sticky liquid in the mud and shame.’ The second, Unidentified, contains short renderings often titled with simply a name or a date of Palestinian victims of the early 1980’s wars in Lebanon. Ben Jelloun says of poetry’s relevance in calamitous times: ‘So, Poetry rises. Out of Necessity. Amidst the disorder where human dignity is trampled, poetry becomes urgent language.’” David O'Neill, Bookforum
"The Rising of the Ashes, poems by Tahar Ben Jelloun is another welcome example of the City Lights mission. . . . What Jelloun proves throughout this book is that he has not let language(s) fail him or the people, places and historical moments he memorializes, making dates that are not headlines as important as front page news." Barbara Berman, The Rumpus
"Riveting, heartfelt, and a bit sobering, The Rising of the Ashes is masterfully translated by Cullen Goldblatt and makes a strong choice for readers." The Midwest Book Review
"The febrile sense of the future suggested in these poems is of course our present, and of that, The Rising of the Ashes is eerily, engagingly and urgently penetrating."
Colin Herd, Chroma
"Poetry written out of anger or outrage, or to express political convictions, doesn’t often last as long as that, but this book remains raw, painful, and effective."
Geoff Wisner, The Quarterly Conversation
"Although Jelloun composed these pieces in direct response to the atrocities of the Gulf War, the overarching message of his poetry soars beyond that. The reader may find meaning in a war of any age, any race, any people; Jelloun's outrage cries beyond the borders set by the status quo to unite a worldwide readership."
-Julie LeBlanc, Counterpoise
Poetry. Middle East Studies. Translated from the French by Cullen Goldblatt. The violence of war is rendered immediate and vividly personal in this powerful book by one of North Africa's premier writers and intellectuals. The human devastation wrought upon Iraqis in the Gulf War and upon Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories is captured in a quietly unrelenting, essential act of remembering that balances lyricism with horror.
Two epic poems focus on the bitter consequences of war and violence in the Middle East.
About the Author
Tahar Ben Jelloun, poet, novelist and professor, was born in Fez, Morocco in 1944. He has lived and worked in France since 1971. Winner of the Prix Goncourt in 1987, he received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2004. Author of numerous works of fiction, poetry, and critique, he writes regularly for diverse journals and newspapers, including Le Monde. Cullen Goldblatt is a writer and translator based in Brooklyn and living Dakar, Senegal. He was a 2006 National Poetry Series Finalist and his work has appeared in Words Without Borders, Left Turn Magazine and Guernica. He is author of the poem Night Music (Hotel St. George Press, 2008) and translator of elobi, by Patrice Nganang (Africa World Press, 2006).