Tangier, in the early 1990s: Young Moroccans gather regularly in a seafront cafe to gaze at the lights on the Spanish coast glimmering in the distance. Facing a future with few prospects in a country they feel has failed them, their disillusionment is matched only by their desire to reach this paradise - so close and yet so far, not least because of the treacherous waters separating the two countries and the frightening stories they hear of the fates of would-be illegal emigrants. A young man called Azel is intent upon leaving one way or another. At the brink of despair he meets Miguel, a wealthy Spanish gallery-owner, who promises to take him to Barcelona if Azel will become his lover. Seeing no other solution, and although he has a girlfriend to whom he is promised, Azel agrees to Miguel's proposition and thus begins a different kind of hell for the young Moroccan - shame and self-disgust at his own helplessness gradually overcome him and he finds himself once more in a hopeless situation. Azel and others like him, including his sister, begin to wonder if the reality of life in Europe will live up to their dreams.
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Number of pages: 229
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm
'[A] penetrating tale.'* The New York Times Book Review *
'Ben Jelloun is arguably Morocco's greatest living author, whose impressive body of work combines intellect and imagination in magical fusion. . . . "Leaving Tangier" is a wholly original feat of form and imagination. . . . There is unexpected humour jostling alongside the horror, in magical-realist passages illuminating the clash of traditional and modern.'* The Guardian *
'Artful and compassionate, "Leaving Tangier" evokes a milieu of self-exile and great expectations.'* The Washington Post *
'Just as John Updike reminded Americans of the guilt and vertigo they sort out between the sheets, Ben Jelloun has chronicled the shame and secrecy surrounding sex in a Morocco of creeping fundamentalism and diminishing opportunity. The explicitness of the sex in his work is powerful and often beautifully erotic; it's . . . where sex amplifies the degradations of postcolonial economic reality that Leaving Tangier lands like a hammer blow. . . . Leaving Tangier would read like a blunt political instrument . . . were Ben Jelloun not such a wonderfully specific writer. Many scenes of agonizing depravity convey the desperation of poverty. . . . From such bracing particulars, Ben Jelloun fashions political fiction of great urgency.'-- John Freeman * Bookforum *
'Tahar Ben Jelloun lifts the veil on an astounding world of a thousand and one nights.'* Le Point *
'Of the thirty books Tahar Ben Jelloun has written, this is undoubtedly one of the most courageous.'* Le Monde des Livres *
'A brave, unflinching look at the issues underlying economic migration from North Africa-and the hard choices people make between roots and wings.'* The Economist *
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