RaveThe Chicago TribuneThese stories, translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright, present a vivid, sometimes lurid picture of wartime Iraq. But they are much more than miniature portraits of the country. Blasim is particularly interested in the slippery space between reality and story, and even the most realistic stories in his collection have an element of the surreal. The reader walks on solid ground one moment, and the next the ground gives way — sending him tumbling into deep, otherworldly holes ... These dark and sometimes bitterly funny stories are shape-shifting, Borgesian tales in which often we discover the narrator is mad or lying. But even when the stories betray their tellers, the characters can\'t give up narrating their lives. The act of storytelling is at the chaotic center of this collection\'s violent, bleak and occasionally beautiful world ... Blasim\'s are not finely wrought stories, where each word feels as though it has been carefully glued into place. Instead, they are stories where the reader is dragged along and left suddenly with a handful of ashes ... But it is in these rough patches that Blasim\'s argument for a truth emerges.
PositiveThe NationalEach of Akashic Books’ many noir collections, set in cities around the world, illuminates a new urban terrain and its literary tics ... The 15 stories in Marrakech Noir are translated from Arabic, French and Dutch, and the crimes within are suited to a city where extreme wealth and poverty brush shoulders. There are women fleecing men, youths fleecing elders, guides fleecing tourists, and stories where everyone is trying to cheat everyone else ... Not every story in Marrakech Noir is an immortal gem, but there are enough enjoyable ones to make the collection fun. And what better way to get to know a city than to meet its criminals?
Lina Meruane, Trans. by Megan McDowell
RaveElectric Literature\"From this moment of darkness, the narrative hurtles forward, obsessed by Lina’s physical and emotional pains, which are examined with a vibrant, Kahloesque fascination ... The sharply wrought and attentive prose, crafted here into compelling English, would probably be enough to keep our attention. But it’s the threat of what Lina will do next? ?that makes this novel un-put-downable.\