*** The melancholy of farewell
It is really sad to read the posthumous book of a great author, especially if, as in this case, it is a collection of works mostly unfinished, and that will never be completed.
“Budayeen nights” partly brings us back to the atmosphere of the magnificent Budayeen trilogy, the slum of an unspecified city in the Arab world of the future. The collection contains works often very different from each other that share a vaguely Arabic theme. To embellish it is the preface and introductions to each story written by Barbara Hambly, third wife of Effinger, who explains to the reader the genesis of each story. Often it includes pieces of unfinished manuscripts. Some seem related to the Budayeen, but are not inserted in the timeline created in the trilogy. It also includes, and this is the saddest thing, parts of the other two novels that Effinger wanted to write to continue to tell the story of Marîd Audran, especially the first few chapters from the fourth, ending with a dramatic cliff-hanger, which will remain so forever.
I especially enjoyed one of the stories in which, without ever saying his name, we see Marîd in the future, after being freed from the yoke of Friedlander Bey, where he cannot help but get into trouble, and then get out of it in some way.
I gave only three stars to this book because I didn’t like all the stories. The title let me think that they were all focused on Marîd and his world, but this is not the case, and some of those who are not aren’t really interesting, perhaps a bit too cerebral or maybe just confusing. I wonder what Effinger thought when he wrote them!
Nevertheless, if you’ve read and you liked the Budayeen trilogy, you must also read this book, though, I warn you, it will leave you with great sadness.