May the Tigris Grieve for You

Emilienne Malfatto


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Les Fugitives
10 April 2023
ISBN: 9781838490492
88 pages

From the publisher

Translated from the French by Lorna Scott Fox

Winner of the 2021 Goncourt du Premier roman

Rural Iraq, during the war against the ‘Islamic State’. A pregnancy out of wedlock seals a young girl’s fate. Before and after death, the voices of each family member rise and fall, between fragments of the legend of Gilgamesh and the mythical voice of the Tigris River, who has seen it all.

Uncompromising yet compassionate, May the Tigris Grieve for You reaches into the heart of a society ruled by fathers and sons, a world in which life matters less than honour.

‘This taut narrative is both poetic and fraught. Emilienne’s eye for journalistic detail gives us unforgettable images, and her poetic sensibility transmutes the story into a timeless tale.’ – Naima Rashid

‘“I am the woman to come. She for whom this killing is performed. She whose honour must at all costs be preserved.” There are too many poignant lines in this book to quote. And quoting them feels like a betrayal of the others and of the issues. This is a book that will move you in its beauty and in its anguish. Lorna Scott Fox’s translation is lyrical. Emilienne Malfatto’s writing is brutally sincere.’ – Nadia Wassef, author of Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller, on Instagram

May the Tigris Grieve for You comes to us, in this attentive and luminous translation, as a work of uncommon intensity, its power all the greater for its economy. A prose poem comprising a sequence of interior monologues, it inscribes upon its small surface the exact image of a world of repression and suffering. Emilienne Malfatto fixes her subject with an unwavering regard, and tempers it with a quiet, embracing sympathy.’ – Nicholas Spice

‘Malfatto weaves the Epic of Gilgamesh into the societal effects of a bloody & oppressive theocratic patriarchy and manages to link violence against the Earth with violence against women. It’s a beautiful, necessary and shocking book.’ — Joanna Pocock, on Instagram