Azza Filali: Outann [Outann]


The latest addition to my website is Azza Filali‘s Outann [Outann]. This is a Tunisian novel set shortly before the Tunisian Revolution and showing a country ripe for change. Virtually all the characters in the book are miserable. Many of them are engaged in dubious, usually criminal activities. Many of them are divorced or heading that way. The heroine is Michkat, a woman lawyer, who works for a corrupt and rich lawyer. When they argue over a divorce he has asked her to take on – his own – she loses her temper and walks out on him. As he is the head of the Tunis lawyers’ association, she is unable to find another job. Meanwhile we meet Rached, also a lawyer, who hates his job, his wife and his life. He meets an old school friend, Mansour, who offers him a very well paid job. He accepts and his task is to find a suitable temporary rented house in a village near Bizerte. The one he does find is not available for rent and is owned by Michkat’s father. However, the caretaker is prepared to rent it illegally as Michkat’s father never visits and Michkat only comes occasionally. The house turns out to be a temporary refuge for a man, Naceur, who has been engaged in criminal activities and is to be smuggled out of the country on a false passport and Schengen visa. Michkat does turn up and recognises both Mansour and Naceur from her time as a criminal lawyer. Inevitably things go wrong. Filali, however, is more interested in showing her country and its sad state, with corruption rife, the poor getting poorer (virtually the only activity in the village near Bizerte is smuggling, both of goods and people) and everyone thoroughly miserable. The country is ripe for revolution but we know how well that went.

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