"Novels have traditionally been related to something urban, to the city, or to the telling of a person’s individual story. This is new to Arab literature. That’s because the development of cities and an individual, modern style of life is new to the Arab world.
"What made “The Italian” special is that I have lived two transitions in my life [Ben Ali coming to power in 1987, and then the 2011 revolution.] So this book goes through two eras in Tunisia.
You can’t compare it to Russian or American literature, because the Arab novel is still something new that came with the modernization of Arab civilization. And it’s a civilization that’s becoming more open to universal and human values.
My novel shows the Arab community what led to the Arab Spring and the Tunisian revolution, what created this momentum that led to the boiling point that have birth to it, and to “The Italian” after. That was my goal as a Tunisian writer."
--Shukri Mabkhout, Arab Booker Prize winner