ZohraLiza: A Painting Inspires a Novel


TALIM Stitou 1

Photo by Mohammed Jadidi

It all started with a picture.  James McBey's "Zohra," Tangier, 1952. 

A report for an e-zine, a blog post, and the interviewer, journalist Abdelouahid Stitou (photo at right, with "Zohra"), was hooked.

He would write the first Facebook interactive novel, in Arabic: "ZohraLiza," inspired by "the Moroccan Mona Lisa."

As Stitou told us at a certain point in the story, the premise is that McBey's painting is stolen from the Legation (heaven forbid!) and is spirited away, to Brussels.  There's a man, and a woman.  The painting is recovered, and brought back to Tangier.  But is it a copy?  Where is the original "Zohra?"

The possibilities are limitless, especially if – and this is the interactive part – you allow online readers to suggest tangents to the plot line.  Over the course of the Facebook phase (we assume this is an endless process), comments, criticism, press coverage – everything was fit to print in "ZohraLiza."

And now it is in print too.  Congratulations to Tangier's own Abdelouahid Stitou for his imagination, his ingenuity in bringing a mid-Twentieth century oil painting to life in the Facebook age.

TALIM Zohra Liza couverture
 Gerald Loftus

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