“The Italian” by Shukri Al Mabkhout

This article is also available in: Italiano

A love story during the Tunisian Revolution, Shukri Al Mabkhout enchants and drags into a world that no longer exists.

The Italian

The story features Abdel Nasser, a young student chief son of the Tunisian nobility. Its origins are Arab and Turkish and it is nicknamed “The Italian” because of its elegant features, as well as for its charm. During a student struggle Abdel Nasser met Zeina, a brilliant and charming student of philosophy, tough and independent. A strong and stubborn love immediately breaks out between the two that will push them to start their story, not to mention the turmoil of their country. The book tells their love story through the eyes of their most trusted friend. Thus allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in pre and post Ben Ali Tunisia marked by the fall of ideals and by the growing corruption similar to Egypt.

The Italian
Shukri Al Mabkhout

A story of life

Shukri al Mabkhout with “The Italian” manages to bring us back in time and thoughts. We see Tunisia artfully portrayed with its people who will carry out a real cultural revolution, this time, however, in the negative. With the collapse of the Bourguiba era, in fact, the dream of contemporary leaders in Nasser vanishes forever. For the Arab countries and in particular for Tunisia it is too great a shock that will then lead to a real moral surrender and a total cancellation of political ideals. Al Mabkhout’s work also shows us the Tunisian passion in politics and in particular in his idea of the left, now a thing of the past.

The Italian

The love story is perfectly based on the context, giving everything an atmosphere similar to Tornatore’s “Grande Cinema Paradiso”, that melancholy air of the past and a naivety that is over and that will never come back. Strongly recommended, probably one of the best Tunisian books of our century, winner in 2015 of the International Prize for Arab Fiction.

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