A cult classic by Morocco’s foremost writer of life on the margins.
Malika Moustadraf (1969–2006) is a feminist icon in contemporary Moroccan literature, celebrated for her stark interrogation of gender and sexuality in North Africa.
Blood Feast is the complete collection of Moustadraf’s published short fiction: haunting, visceral stories by a master of the genre. A teenage girl suffers through a dystopian rite of passage, a man with kidney disease makes desperate attempts to secure treatment, and a mother schemes to ensure her daughter passes a virginity test.
Delighting in vibrant sensory detail and rich slang, Moustadraf takes an unflinching look at the gendered body, social class, illness, double standards, and desire, as lived by a diverse cast of characters. Blood Feast is a sharp provocation to patriarchal power and a celebration of the life and genius of one of Morocco’s preeminent writers.
“Moustadraf's piercing 14 stories here, which challenge patriarchal expectations of gender and sexuality, barely fill 100 pages. Award-winning translator and professor Alice Guthrie enhances that brevity with extensive literary and historical context, providing a meaningful conduit to the work of ‘a gifted maverick writer in her ascendency.’” —Shelf Awareness, starred review
“[Moustadraf’s] style is unflinching, whether she’s dissecting the impact of patriarchal culture on women and children or excoriating corruption in the healthcare system… Moustadraf’s work is, perhaps, most important for her determination to shine a light on aspects of her society that most people would prefer to ignore.” —Kirkus
“The characters found within treat themselves badly, treat each other worse, and grapple with a hostile or indifferent society; via Moustadraf’s empathic rendering, though, their lives and circumstances come into focus and are often moving—but never losing that harrowing edge.” —Words Without Borders
“How precious, how raw and mordant [Moustadraf’s] voice is, poised with its serrated edge to slice through the obfuscations and lies of a patriarchy buttressed by institutionalized religion.” —Asymptote
"Malika Moustadraf’s short stories, elegantly translated in Alice Guthrie’s raw prose, draw the reader into tender inner lives—from a breastfeeding mother flirting on the internet, to an intersex sex worker, to a young man grappling with desire itself. The writing here is taut, the juxtapositions unexpected, the observations unflinching. Moustadraf’s voice guides the reader into full-blooded worlds of humor and disharmony.” —Selma Dabbagh, author of Out of It
“At once tender and cruel, insolent and profound, Malika Moustadraf is an exceptional and courageous short story writer who confronts the harshest realities of her country, Morocco. Her characters, with all their humor and complexity, will stay with you for a long time.” —Leïla Slimani, author of In the Country of Others
“Blood Feast is a dark, edgy, and compelling collection from an author who should be celebrated internationally. Malika Moustadraf is a master at describing the hidden desires, lurking ferocity, sharp beauty, and glinting pain of her characters, so many of whom toil and fight unseen and unheard by wider society. In these gritty (and witty) stories, the complexity of today’s world is brought into clean focus, with all its savagery and all its contingent, saving graces. Moustadraf’s world is one of survivors and pugilists, strivers and grifters, dreamers and hustlers all hungry to be somewhere or something or someone else. The author writes their lives with poignancy and poetic grace.” —Bidisha, author of The Future of Serious Art
“Haunting, caustic, and unflinching, this hypnotizing collection of stories is like being gifted a secret box of dark, complex chocolates.” —Saleem Haddad, author of Guapa
"This complete collection of short stories from the late Malika Moustadraf features Moroccans who are sometimes redeemable and sometimes not. These clever stories are about sexuality and gender norms, traditions and contradictions, the absence of choice, and all of them are properly short, to readers’ delight. Contemplative and even jocular, Blood Feast is a window into a niche Arab culture." —Mary Wahlmeier Bracciano, Raven Book Store