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Driven by famine from their home in the Rif, Mohamed's family walks to Tangiers in search of a better life. But things are no better there. Eight of Mohamed's siblings die of malnutrition and neglect, and one is killed by Mohamed's father in a fit of rage.
On moving to another province Mohamed learns how to charm and steal, and discovers the joys of drugs, sex and alcohol. Proud, insolent and afraid of no-one, Mohamed returns to Tangiers, where he is caught up in the violence of the 1952 independence riots. During a short spell in a filthy Moroccan jail, a fellow inmate kindles Mohamed's life-altering love of literature.
A cult classic, For Bread Alone is an astonishing tale of human resilience and an unflinching and searing portrait of the early life of one of the Arab world's most important and widely read authors.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'The illiterate remembers everything. It seems almost a stroke of good luck that Choukri's encounter with the written word should have come so late. As a writer, he is in an enviable position, though he paid a high price for it in suffering.' Paul Bowles 'A true document of human desperation, shattering in its impact.' Tennessee Williams 'A book to read, cherish and remember - and to show us again why we need books as well as bread.' Morning Star; '[An] extraordinarily vivid, uncensored immediacy ... Using only undemonstrative prose, and asking for no special sympathy, Choukri conveys the experience of struggling to survive in a harsh world of dusty streets and unforgiving sunlight.' Nicolas Clee, Guardian; 'Five stars ... Achingly elegant ... Choukri's irrepressible, ultimately indomitable spirit is most touching and human.' Independent; 'Richly descriptive and engaging ... An enjoyable and worthwhile read.' Socialist Review