Short Story #39. Street of the House of Wonders (Rachida el-Charni)

Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the ten of diamonds.

Story: Street of the House of Wonders, by Rachida el-Charni [in The Granta Book of the African Short Story]

Comments: The story-line here is fairly simple: a woman’s necklace is grabbed by a thief on the street; she is disillusioned by the bystanders’ response – they don’t help her, refuse to get involved.  It’s a story-line open to many possibilities.  To be honest, I was somewhat disappointed – I would expect more from a story at this level (i.e. included in such an anthology).  The description of the woman fighting the thief really wasn’t really adrenalin-filled.  I found myself wondering “how did he pinch her while holding a knife in one hand and the necklace in the other?”  or “would she really be whispering under her breath, rather than screaming aloud?”  The translation (from Arabic – el-Charni is Tunisian) seemed a bit literal in places, not really lively English.  And the final paragraph is too blatant in its expression of the victim’s opinion of the crowd; something more subtle might have been more effective.