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Flutes of Death [a novel]

Driss Chraibi, translated by Robin A. Roosevelt
ISBN: 978-0-89410-327-8
1985/146 pages/LC: 83-50204


The first book in a trilogy that continues with Mother Spring and Birth at Dawn, this naturalistic allegory is about two Arabic-speaking police officers who set out in the Atlas Mountains in search of a revolutionary. Once in this mysterious region, the officers, with their postcolonial, Westernized manners, are challenged by the ferociously suspicious and independent-minded Berber peoples.

Chraïbi illustrates the clash between the modern and the traditional, between those who are willing to make cultural accommodation and those who are assertive of ancient traditions. At the same time, in language that is sometimes acerbic and sometimes lyrical, he illustrates the predicaments common to all ordinary people, whether urban or peasant. First published in French in 1981.


Born in Morocco in 1926, the late Driss Chraïbi embraced French education and culture early on and supported French colonial rule; but he soon became equally critical of the Occidental and the Islamic worlds, and his writing often focuses on the unresolved conflicts between the two. Chraïbi practiced medicine for a few years, then turned to writing in 1952. He has published more than a dozen highly acclaimed novels.