- Pub Date: 7/3/2012
Fiction. Middle Eastern studies. Gender studies.
Paperback original / ebook
4.5″ x 8″
by Thani Al-Suwaidi
translated and introduced by William M. Hutchins
“The story unfolds in a series of vertiginous riffs: on childhood, on village life, on commerce, on government, on the power of music; all of it built of powerful images out of desert life which the narrator freely associates on, producing a sort of Arab surrealism with a deep foundation in local folklore…This little work of fiction, with its wild metaphors and surprising turns seems as tipsy as a dancer with too many drinks. It celebrates the Dionysian element in Arab culture we’ve seen much too little of these recent decades.”
- Alan Cheuse, NPR
“Embodying both the medieval figure of the mukhannath and the contradictions of petromodernity, the Diesel is one of the most intriguing characters to grapple with questions of gender, sexuality, and belonging since Jess Goldberg, the protagonist of Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues.”
- Marcel LaFlamme, Cultures of Energy
“Hutchins has produced an excellent translation through working with the author, completing extensive research of Arabic texts with similar themes, and utilizing his own extensive experience in translation and knowledge of the language… This novella undoubtedly deserves attention for its highly unique execution and relevant subject material, and I would unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone.”
- Lili Sarayrah, Three Percent
“The Diesel…make[s] new work of obliterating cultural stereotypes; it highlights not only humanity’s depth and complexity across cultures, but also our ability to access the universal through the sheer joy of language.”
- Rain Taxi Review of Books
By Thani Al-Suwaidi
Translated and with an introduction by William M. Hutchins
Cover and book design by John Gall
In a small Arab community, one accustomed to ancestral attitudes and social constraints, a new world of radical sexual strength is evolving in secret, driven by a long dormant demon: The Diesel.
Nearly two decades before the rest of the world ever envisioned an Arab Spring, Emirati author Thani Al-Suwaidi saw a cultural shift on the horizon. Critically shunned when it was first published in 1994, his story is now a revelation for the modern world—a stream-of-consciousness dissection of our orthodox past and the perilous future we can no longer prevent.
The power of petroleum may be greater than any society could have ever imagined, especially in the Middle Eastern communities where it’s actually produced. Amongst contrasting Arab cultures, characters and mystical creatures, The Diesel challenges its inhabitants to consider who they are and what they desire. This is a force that ultimately segregates fathers and sons, villages and empires, love and lust. And it’s been lingering beneath the soil since the world began.
As Al-Suwaidi bluntly begins, “I’ve been here since I was born and don’t have much longer to live.” In the world of The Diesel, the length of a life isn’t nearly as important as how it’s lived.