Memory, Loss, and Absence in Akram Musallam’s novel The Dance of the Deep-Blue Scorpion

Book review

The Dance of the Deep-Blue Scorpion by Palestinian writer Akram Musallam, forthcoming by Seagull Books. English Translation: Sawad Hussein.

An excerpt from my review of the novel, published in The Markaz Review: Akram Musallam’s novel, The Dance of the Deep-Blue Scorpion, originally published in Arabic in 2008, is a meditation on loss, absence, and memory. How can we know for sure that something we lost had actually existed in reality and is not merely a figment of our dreams or imagination [cf. “That in Aleppo once…,” the astonishing 1943 short story by Vladimir Nabokov —Ed.]? Does the memory of a place, a person, an experience, and the emptiness left by their absence mean they existed? Through an intricately woven and multi-layered narrative, where content and form are closely interconnected in a spiraling structure, Musallam asks these questions without offering any answers. If anything, by the end of the book we are thrown right back to the beginning by the force of its spiraling form and, like the characters of the stories told by the narrator, are left in desperate search to fill that emptiness left by loss. 

To read the full review: Palestinian Akram Musallam Writes of Loss and Memory

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