- Purchase/rental options available:
Purportedly the first openly gay writer published in Morocco, Abdellah Taia has become a name to reckon within the French literary landscape he has made his adopted home. His largely autobiographical work follows in a tradition of the Francophone Moroccan récit exemplified by his clearest precursor, Rachid O., while also demonstrating a frankness and a concern with contemporary issues such as migration and the Maghrebi transition to individualism that is clearly his own. His star has further risen with English translations of his work and his film L'Armée du salut, adapted from his novel of the same name. This article examines his claims to being the first to come out in a literature that, as Jarrod Hayes and other scholars have emphasized, was already steeped in homoeroticism. It focuses upon the issue of language difference, noting the ways in which French and Arabic circumscribe queer identity formation with pronounced socioeconomic repercussions and also by taking into consideration Taïa's desire to move between literary and cinematic languages. Linguistic identity, it argues, takes on its greatest importance at the moment of any identity formation, particularly insofar as language itself so often operates as a metaphor for other identity vectors, such as race, gender and sexuality.