“Students! Write this down in your notebooks! Chewing is infinite!”
Young Mukhtar is frozen in time, gazing at his beloved Fatma as she disappears into the streets of Tripoli, destined to a life of prostitution. Around these young lovers, Bushnaf weaves a compelling network of images: a litter-strewn park, a bewitching Italian statue and a fluttering red scarf. Through these images, imbued with social, historical and existential import, Bushnaf paints a dark portrait of a country in crisis and an individual, alone at the centre of conflicting ideologies, all attempting to explain his existence away.
With its satirical and semi-journalistic style, Chewing Gum is an existential quest to understand how a society exists beneath a repressive dictatorship. The rhythmic act of chewing relentlessly continues as individuals, time and land turn to waste. In this debut novel, no one escapes the critical gaze of a writer who witnessed first-hand the brutality of Gaddafi’s regime. At times downright funny and at times poignantly sad, Chewing Gum depicts the academics, politicians and businessmen of Libya who all claim a monopoly on the truth of the country but who all, inevitably, fail the individual.