French Perfume by Amir Tag Elsir & William M. Hutchins

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French Perfume by Amir Tag Elsir & William M. Hutchins


Fiction, 7" x 4.25", 160 pages, paperback, June 2015, ISBN 9780983868385

A deliriously dark comedy exploring the absurd tragedy of the human condition when left to the devices of our tech-obsessed society.

“I had many things in mind that I wanted to achieve before the Frenchwoman Katia arrived…”

So begins the story of Amir Tag Elsir’s French Perfume as told by Ali Jarjar — the town gossip and schemer of a poor community rich with sleazy bachelors, desperate women, soothsayers and secret police. Tasked to introduce his impoverished town to a chic foreign visitor, Ali’s attempts to make the best first impression are left in limbo as the newcomer perpetually postpones her trip.

Quickly escalating to a terrifying conclusion, Spike Jonze’s Her crashes into Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot as our charming narrator allows his attraction for a stranger’s online existence to become a frightening obsession in the real world.

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Amir Tag Elsir, who was born in the north of Sudan in 1960, currently lives in Doha, Qatar. He has published two biographies, a poetry collection, and fifteen novels. He studied medicine in Egypt and Great Britain and worked for many years in Sudan as a gynecologist before moving his practice to Qatar. He began by writing poetry but shifted to novels in 1987. Among his novels are The Dowry of Cries, The Copt’s Worries, French Perfume, and Crawling Ants. His novel Sa’id al-Yaraqat was shortlisted for the Arab Booker Prize in 2010 and published by Pearson in the African Writers Series as The Grub Hunter in 2012. Amir Tag Elsir is the nephew of the beloved and distinguished Sudanese author Tayeb Salih.

William Maynard Hutchins, who teaches at Appalachian State University of North Carolina, was educated at Berea, Yale and the University of Chicago. His translations appear in Words Without Borders, InTranslation at Brooklyn Rail and Banipal Magazine of Modern Arabic Literature. The Arabic novels he has translated include Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street, and Cairo Modern by Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz; Basrayatha by the Iraqi author Muhammad Khudayyir; The Last of the Angels, Cell Block 5 and The Traveler and the Innkeeper by the Iraqi author Fadhil al-Azzawi; Return to Dar al-Basha by the Tunisian author Hassan Nasr; and Anubis, The Seven Veils of Seth and The Puppet by the Saharan author Ibrahim al-Koni. He has received two Literary Translation Awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, both for works by al-Koni. His most recent translations, in addition to The Diesel, are A Land Without Jasmine by the Yemeni author Wajdi al-Ahdal, The Grub Hunter by the Sudanese author Amir Tag Elsir and a newly revised translation of Return of the Spirit by Tawfiq al-Hakim.

Cover by Porous Walker. Book design by Will Petty

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