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Set in the author's home country of Morocco, outside the ancient city of Marrakech, this is a moving novel of identity, extremism, culture and generational change. The narrator, Yousif, the son of a cross-cultural marriage between his father and German-born mother, is caught up in a mesh of family tragedies that reflect the changing world he lives in. The unexplained suicide of Yousif's mother, for which Yousif blames his father, is part of the dark hinterland to the opening of the book, after which he learns that his only son Yasin, whom he believed to be successfully pursuing an education at a prestigious college in Paris, has been killed in Afghanistan fighting with the Islamist resistance. With his world already shattered, and finding himself abandoned by his wife for another man, Yousif questions everything including his own values and identity. His inner journey is reflected in the changes to the local community, strained by the emergence of a business mafia who care little for the legacy of Morocco's past and who have #145;stolen' his wife, while his father, despite having lost his sight, spends his days trying to explain the traditions and history of the town to visiting tourists.
Born in 1951, Mohammed Achaari is a Moroccan poet, short story writer, journalist and former Minister of Culture. He has published a number of works of fiction and poetry, some of which have been translated into French, Spanish, Russian and Dutch. The Arch and the Butterfly is his second novel.