Devours Himself Starting at His Feet

Devours Himself Starting at His Feet
(working title)
يلتهم نفسه بادئًا بقدميه
(Yaltahim nafsahu badiaan bi qadamayhi)

Written by

(عبد الله الزيّود)

Published by


A horror mystery that is also an allegory about the writing process

The story opens with a tragic accident, then quickly shifts to a first-person narration that begins with a meeting between Abdallah (the narrator) and Amer, in which the former is entrusted with a manuscript detailing the same haunting opening scene.

Next, Abdallah meets the enigmatic and reclusive author al-Azraq, whose conversations about the writing process inspire intense writing sessions that Abdallah forgets as soon as they happen. Gradually, the sinister truth of al-Azraq’s characters being “stolen from their owners” is revealed, as people from the lives of Amer and Abdallah are discovered chained in al-Azraq’s basement.

As this short and gripping novella unfolds, the boundaries between fiction and reality blur, culminating in a charged confrontation between Amer and Abdallah. When a gunshot rings out, the reader is left questioning the fates of these entwined characters.
Each chapter is subtitled by a word from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which underlines the book’s preoccupation with the power and limitations of language, that is with writing itself.

Approximate number of pages: 110 p.

Foreign rights: contact the publisher


Translation samples

Reasons to publish this book

The structure of this 110-page novella is reminiscent of a matryoshka doll, each story nestled within another. With elements of horror and satire, and philosophical undertones, it will appeal to fans of both thrillers and literary fiction. Rooted in its Jordanian setting, it’s a captivating and thought-provoking journey that explores themes of responsibility and culpability, and can also be read as an allegory for the writing process. Al-Zayoud’s is a fresh and distinctive voice that challenges preconceptions about Arabic literature.

Reviewed by Nariman Youssef