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Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Dans le chapitre suivant, un conteur raconte son histoire. First published in France, the novel’s message expresses on multiple levels ideas about the post-colonial condition of Morocco while also emphasizing themes relating to the construction of individual identities.
It can also be niut as a critique of “traditional” Islamic and Moroccan mores, with specific reference to the position of women. There are strong elements of magical realism in the novel. Published December 1st by Seuil first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. This bewildering, hallucinatory book begins with the fairytale-like story of an eighth daughter who is raised by her father as the male heir he never had.
No one else in the family knows the secret; named Ahmed, s he is jelloun as a boy, treated as a boy, and speedily inducted into the ways of the patriarchy. Ahmed gradually retires from communal life and spends hours alone in his room, staring in solitude and confusion at his naked female body. He has absorbed what seems to be a fundamental lesson: To be a woman is a natural disability which everyone makes the best of.
To be a man is an illusion and a violence which everything justifies and prioritises. Simply to be is a challenge. Ben Jelloun never takes the easy route when playing with these ideas. But even this is presented in unusually complex terms: Je ne me retournerais pas pour ne pas voir quel visage porte cette main.
To go out, to be jostled, to be in a crowd and feel a man’s hand awkwardly fondling my ass…for a lot of women it’s extremely unwelcome. I can understand that. For me, it would be the first anonymous hand that touched my back, or my hips. I wouldn’t turn round to see which face was attached to the hand.
If I saw, I’d probably be horrified. But bad manners, vulgar gestures, can sometimes have a little poetry in them — just enough not to get angry. A light touch, that would not belie the eroticism of this people. It was mainly European travellers who best sensed, and best described, this eroticism, in painting as in literature — even though, behind it all, their steps were guided by a sense of white superiority.
Orientalism by way of street harassment, mediated by a transgender narrator and ultimately filtered through the gaze of a male author? You can see that there’s a lot to think about in this small book. This is even more apparent in French, where even in the first-person sections the gender of the speaker is always and unavoidably marked.
I read L’Enfant de sable in two one-day chunks, which was a strange experience, because the tagar half of the book is in many ways quite unlike the first. I see that a lot of reviewers wanted a whole novel about gender fluidity, a Maghrebi Orlandobut in fact that’s not what this ends up being. Ben Jelloun’s prose, always very poetic, starts to come apart, to fly off into something much more uncertain and metaphorical. To be fair, jelllun warns you at the start.
As one of his walk-ons says late brn the story: Anyway, a book, at least as I see it, is a labyrinth that’s designed to confuse people — with the intention of losing them, bringing them out of the narrow confines of their ambitions. The play with gender identity turns into a much wider interrogation of the social violence that underpins patriarchy; and this, in turn, becomes an interrogation of the way narratives themselves are even told. At first, our protagonist’s story is being told by one of the public storytellers in Marrakech for more on these guys, see this obscure review that Scr wrote yonks ago ; in the second half of the njit, this voice is replaced, and then replaced again, as various characters relate their own opinions on what exactly happened to the central character.
Are they even a central character anymore? It’s hard to know who is who, and what is supposed to be taken seriously, which version of the truth we are expected to nukt. Just go with it. Ben Jelloun will take you off somewhere; you might not want to go, but he’ll take you anyway, and then drop you, miles from where you started, looking around in an unfamiliar landscape, full of new and strange ideas.
View all 6 comments. Jelloun struck me most strongly about this work is the intense male supremacy it highlights. The sadness she describes reminded me of the ‘gender sadness’ Julia Serano mentions nui before her transition.
She longs to live as a woman, yet fears to give up the rights and freedoms of a man. She speaks about her tormenting conscience – but Ben Jelloun does not take this hint at feminist solidarity? She also speaks of being taught to consider herself superior to women, something difficult to unlearn.
The first storyteller says that Islam is the source of the social inferiority of women, and tahwr another character describes the Koran as a book whose words have “the force of law yet lack a woman’s perspective”.
But the story reveals how some men will go to great lengths to athar the concentration of economic and social power in male hands, subverting Islam and the law. This is a skillful and nuanced part of the story.
Ben Jelloun makes careful efforts to socially place his various narrators, and perhaps I missed many of the significances of this because I lack experience of Moroccan society. This self is fascinated by her and jeelloun admonishes, but never objectifies her.
This is the last moment of clarity for me, except a few subsequent mentions of political struggle, brief and vague but intriguing. This style of writing, images flowing in succession submerged in interior reflections and unobtrusive transitions between tellers, is rarely a success for me.
L’enfant de sable / La nuit sacrée by Tahar Ben Jelloun
I find the bulk of the text unmemorable and the constant mention of dreams, death and so on wash over me as unaffecting commonplace despite its eloquence and poetry. I accummulate an overall discomfort at sexually explicit descriptions and images of illness, aging and burial, but I find it hard to make sense and meaning from these passages. Chegou ao domingo, mandou-nos infiltrar pelas brechas das muralhas e esmerdou-se tudo. Continuei a ler porque o enredo era interessante: Aparecem outros contadores que inventam uma catrefada de disparates.
Continuo sem sono e sem saber o que ler a seguir. View all 4 comments. The book starts out with a gripping premise, that a Moroccan man has seven daughters and really, really wants a boy. So when the eighth child is born a girl, the man decides to hell with it and declares her to be a boy, a fiction which he works hard to maintain until the end of his days.
So far so good. Then the girl whose name is Mohammed Ahmed mopes around This book sucked. Then the girl whose name is Mohammed Ahmed mopes around for fifty pages, complaining of loneliness, which gets wearisome. Then she decides to join the circus, and the story starts to get really interesting. Then the author chucks the whole story by saying it was just a story being told by a storyteller who has died. Some of the storyteller’s listeners get together at a cafe and take turns trying to end the girl’s story, since the storyteller isn’t around to do it for them.
The story never gets finished, and we are treated to fifty pages of patently lame storytelling. I was howling for Mohammed the girl to come back and finish her story, but it was not to be.
A weak story about storytelling, this story started out with a gripping premise and just falls apart. If you want to read Ben Jelloun, try “A Palace in the Old Village,” which is a much, much better book than this piece of dreck.
This is a deeply strange book well beyond its unusual initial premise, that of an Islamic Moroccan girl raised as a boy to thwart sexist inheritance law. The early, fairly direct, study of social conventions and restrictions shifts as the protagonist takes on self-awareness and finds voice in the narrative.
Soon, the story is overrun by sex, sexism, and sexuality, by desire and divided identity. As identity fragments, so does the narrative, as it changes hands between many tellers, some of whom This is a deeply strange book well beyond its unusual initial premise, that of an Islamic Moroccan girl raised as a boy to thwart sexist inheritance law.
As identity fragments, so does the narrative, as it changes hands between many tellers, some of whom die, disappear, contradict, or fabricate, until our protagonist is all but lost. At which point a certain blind librarian appears in pursuit of these vanishing traces. This last underscores the fascination and frustration of the novel, as any true human element and narrative cohesion is lost to in a somewhat arch and removed postmodern house of stairs.
Contradictorily, this is just when Jelloun himself, perhaps appearing from behind his devices, seems to want most to reach us with pathos and political urgency.
L’enfant de sable / La nuit sacrée
Though flawed, it’s a fascinating book, and a taharr singular study of Islamic North Africa. Il dubbio sino alla fine ho taha che Ahmed fosse veramente un uomo, poi il dubbio si scioglie.
Tornata a casa subito a comprare il libro: Danza e parole a confronto. View all 8 comments. I hated this book. It was on the reading list of a course I was taking so I had to finish it but it was the closest I have ever come to being tortured. Seriously, only buy this book if it is to give to a terrible, terrible enemy.
Almost nothing happened in this book. I never give ratings this low, and I hate to do that, but honestly, it felt like the author was struggling with the concept of non-consensual gender re-assignment and then just wrote an entire book about someone spiraling out of control because of it.
There are hundreds of thousands of books and films about people who are assigned a certain gender at birth and then struggle later on, individuals who are forced through this oa an adolescent; there are also ex Almost nothing happened in this book. There are hundreds of thousands of books and films about people who are assigned a certain gender at birth and then struggle later on, individuals who are forced through this as an adolescent; there are also extensive books coming out of this region about families socially transforming one of their female children into a male in order to provide many things for the family in terms of status, social mobility, financially, etc.