For some reason I expected to find many books from Tunisia, but I was taken by surprise when I realized this was not the case. I was very lucky to find Lion Mountain by Mustapha Tlili on Internet Archives, which is a source I am thankful for, and I appreciate all the effort that has been put into that project. If you are not familiar with it, you might one to check it out.
It is a short read filled with symbolism, a poetic tale about a North African village, far from everything, a village resisting the changes to life, first France, the Tunisia, wants to put them through. Lion Mountain is a spiritual place, the mosque is the heart of the village, and ancestors are intensely important to the inhabitants. Horia El-Gharib is embracing her village’s spirit and values, and fighting against Westernization, and general big changes.
Tradition versus change is one of the big battles fought around the world. Some places are still battling this hard and will do it for many years to come. The battle around the globe can be seen strongly in world literature. I cannot count how many times I have read about this issue during my world tour. It is an important matter, and I am happy to see that so many authors around the globe tackles this issue.
This poignant book has been banned in Tunisia, and that usually means there must be something interesting in the book, something that has hit a nerve. Because the book focuses on fighting against change, and Tunisian independence, it is not hard to find a lot of political context in the book. A context not welcomed. Maybe it has something to do with the villagers living side by side with the French colonizers in peace, and the real trouble starts when France withdraws, and Tunisian government is taking over.
The book is so short that it is almost over when you start, but it still has important messages to tell that are so universal that readers who are not familiar with Tunisia will get them. I did not especially care for the way the book was written since immediately after I read the book, I started forgetting about it, and I feel like a book like this should be remembered. I wonder if the translation has anything to do with this.