Youssef el-Mekki, a young man of 19, is living with his mother in the slums of Casablanca when he discovers that the father he believed to be dead is, in fact, alive and eager to befriend and support him. Leaving his mother behind, Youssef assumes a life he could only dream of: a famous and influential father, his own penthouse apartment, and all the luxuries associated with his new status. His future appears assured until an abrupt reversal of fortune sends him back to the streets and his childhood friends, where a fringe Islamic group, known simply as the Party, has set up its headquarters.
In the spirit of The Inheritance of Loss and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Laila Lalami's powerful first novel explores the struggle for identity, the need for family, and the desperation that overtakes ordinary lives in a country divided by class, politics, and religion.
©2009 Laila Lalami; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"A powerful debut novel....The culture and politics of contemporary Morocco are well displayed in this beautifully written tale, with the talented Lalami deftly portraying Youssef's struggles for identity, work, and family. A brilliant story of alienation and desperation that easily transports readers to hot, dusty Casablanca; highly recommended." (Library Journal)
.. for me, this has made no lasting impression. the best books (and there are many for me!!) linger for a long time aftwards.
"not great literature"
the first thing that bothered me was the narrator's diction, emphases and pace. Although her voice has a fine timbre and tone, she reads at the top of her voice and her speech is pressured -- throughout. I thought I would adapt, but could not. Then I began to read at double speed to evaluate the story itself. It was a disappointment, too. At first I thought I was reading a Cinderella tale for disillusioned teens; the search of a fatherless son for his paternity and a place in the sun is an archetypal motif that deserves better treatment than to serve as a vehicle for the author to focus on the exploitation of youth by radical Islam parties. Surely the plight of impoverished and unemployed Moroccan underclasses in this age of political and religious strife deserves a more thoughtful exploration than she offers -- which was why I chose the book in the first place.
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