Year of the Elephant, The
by Leila Abouzeid
In this moving fictional treatment of a Muslim woman’s life, a personal and family crisis impells the heroine to reexamine traditional cultural attitudes toward women. Cast out and divorced by her husband, she finds herself in a strange new world. Both obstacles and support systems change as she actively participates in the struggle for Moroccan independence from France. This feminist novel is a literary statement in a modern realist style. Many novels by women of the Middle East that have been translated reflect Western views, values, and education. By contrast, “Year of the Elephant” is uniquely Moroccan and emerges from North African Islamic culture itself. Its subtle juxtaposition of past and present, of immediate thought and triggered memory, reflects the heroine’s interior conflict between tradition and modern demands. The title refers to a famous battle described in the Koran. First published in Arabic in Morocco in 1983, this novel almost immediately sold out. It is one of the first Moroccan novels written in Arabic to be translated into English. Leila Abouzeid is an author, script writer, and journalist.