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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Interzone’s a Riot: William S. Burroughs and Writing the Moroccan Revolution

  • Author(s): Suver, Stacey Andrew
  • et al.

Naked Lunch, Burroughs’ breakthrough work, was written in scraps and fragments and is a hallucinatory tour through a realm he calls Interzone, closely modeled on the international zone of Tangier and that corresponds with Tangier in many ways: geographically, culturally, and politically. Much of the book’s content is inspired by or a direct transcription of events he witnessed there. Burroughs developed a fascination with Morocco’s anticolonial revolution and the violence surrounding the movement for independence.  Scenes in Naked Lunch involving Islam Inc. and lengthy descriptions of Interzone’s political factions serve as satirical representations of the revolutionary organizations operating inside Morocco during the writing of the novel, many of which had a tendency to fight each other as often as they fought the French. With the publication of Naked Lunch in 1958, William S. Burroughs expressed both his admiration for the transformative potential of revolutionary violence and his dismay that this potential went unrealized in Morocco.

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