The Death of Murat Idrissi – by Tommy Wieringa

In this novella, Tommy Wieringa shows another aspect of illegal migration and tackles cultural and identity issues of second generation immigration in the Netherlands.

His writing is lyrical yet much lighter in this book, compared to Those are the Names. I like the latter much better, since I couldn’t have sympathy for the two girls in this book. I guess I have low tolerance for irresponsible and immoral behaviors.

Some reviewers criticized the cultural appropriation in this novella, Wieringa being a Dutch author and writing about Moroccans. I personally have no issue with it.

“In his 2016 Los Angeles Times essay on cultural appropriation, the Vietnamese American novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen contends that it is indeed “possible to write about others not like oneself, if one understands that this is not simply an act of culture and free speech, but one that is enmeshed in a complicated, painful history of ownership and division, that needs to be addressed responsibly–that is to say, with great artistry–in one’s writing.” Nguyen seems to imply that self-awareness of the power dynamics implicit in embodying another can grant one the right to write that other.”

The Death of Murat Idrissi was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2019. Originally published in Dutch in 2017, in English in 2019. Translated by Sam Garrette.

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