New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1972. First American Edition. Hardcover. "All day the café was full of men in djellebas and turbans...Most of the customers smoked kif, and many of them tried to sell it to him. He never bought any, because when he refused he had found that they gave it to him anyway. His kif box was always full on these days. And they constantly passed him their pipes to smoke, so that by the time Si Mokhtar arrived in the afternoon to count the money, Abdeslam's head would be about to burst from the pressure of the kif inside it." So writes Mohammed Mrabet (as translated by the great Paul Bowles) in his 1972 novel "The Lemon." Mrabet worked as a barman in the infamous Hotel Muneria in Tangier from 1956-1959, whose equally infamous denizens included William S. Burroughs while writing significant sections of his eternal, endless classic "The Naked Lunch." Those familiar with the history of Morocco in the "Interzone," or "International Zone" period (1923-1956) most likely know of its isomer status as tolerant of, or welcoming to homosexuality--certainly an anomaly in the Arab world. The informed reader may know what was sometimes obscured under its hearteningly liberal permissivity--the open sexualization of young boys for prostitution or other unspeakable horrors--something the protagonist in Mrabet's "The Lemon," twelve year-old Abdeslam, is not altogether spared from. The front flap of the work claims Mrabet & Bowles' theme in the story to be something like: "...the necessity of violence to maintain one's innocence," which admittedly is a claim that must be wrestled with on its own terms. But fans of Bowles and Mrabet (or those who trust Bowles enough to take not only his own work but the work of his mentees and cohorts seriously), are sure to benefit from a close reading of "The Lemon."
Book in very fine condition with only slightest, faint shelf-wear to bottom fine-edges of boards. Dust-jacket in near fine condition with mild rubbing to front cover; small closed tear at top left-hand corner of same; moderate rubbing to back cover at fine-edges and bottom left-hand corner of same; single vertical crease running through length of back flap at author blurb-biographies. Very Fine / Near Fine. [Item #3886]