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This Blinding Absence of Light [Hardcover]

Tahar Ben Jelloun , Linda Coverdale
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 11.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 2002

In this extraordinary non-fiction novel, based on a true story, Tahar Ben Jelloun traces the experiences of Salim who, in 1971, took part in a failed coup attempt to oust King Hassan II of Morocco. With sixty others Salim was incarcerated in a secret prison complex in the Moroccan desert: he was to remain there for nearly twenty years.

In starkly eloquent, beautiful prose, Ben Jelloun relates the prisoners' experiences as they struggle to survive. The son of a witty, feckless courtier who disowns him, Salim tells stories to keep sane - from the suras of his beloved Koran to the plot of A Streetcar Named Desire. Even in the darkest, most terrible conditions, sympathy, insight, the human quest for meaning and understanding, never desert Salim. The resulting novel is a wrenching yet exquisite celebration of the human spirit and its determination to survive.

'A masterpiece' Judges of the IMPAC award

'a sad and splendid book' New York Times Book Review

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; 1st edition (1 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565847237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565847231
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 14.4 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 462,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'A life-affirming work of astonishing authority' -- Independent

'Magnificent' -- Guardian

'Unforgettable … one of the great novels of incarceration and endurance' -- Independent

‘A gripping though unsettling novel . . . shocking for its lack of sentimentality’ -- Financial Times

‘A joy to read … magnificent’ -- Guardian

‘A magisterial work … one of the most beautiful, humbling and important books most of us are likely to read’ -- Irish Times

‘An unforgettable work of art … this is one of the great novels of incarceration and endurance’ -- Independent

‘One of the most beautiful, humbling and important books most of us are likely ever to read’ -- Irish Times

‘Remarkable ... belongs in the annals of prison fiction along with Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’ -- Scotsman --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Tahar Ben Jelloun was born in 1944 in Fez, Morocco, and emigrated to France in 1961. He is one of North Africa's foremost novelists. Tahar Ben Jelloun's novels include The Sacred Night which received the Prix Goncourt in 1987 and Corruption. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the very front rank of prison literature 6 July 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This astonishing book stands favourable comparsion with every classic of prison literature you can think of. Transparently written and deeply insightful, the awful conditions of confinement suffered by the Moroccan prisoners chill the blood. The book is translated in such a way that there is no hint that it was not written in English, with not one infelicitous phrase or awkward sentence. Shocking in its simple descriptions of state sadism, the book also describes unemotionally a triumph of the human spirit in the face of unremitting attempts to crush it and replace the minor pleasures of everyday existence available even to ordinary prisoners, -- sunlight, the feeling and sounds of rain, cleanliness and basic cameraderie -- with solitude, insanity and a complete absence of light. This is a book that deserves a much wider readership
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of the Strong Willed and Faithful 2 Oct 2005
A friend gave me a copy of this book and told me to read it. I did so and found it hard to get into but after two chapters I found a rhtyhm. I read the entire book in one session and could not put it down.
The amazing yet at the same time horrifying descriptions in the book - the humanity shown by the prisoners in a place where humanity no longer existed, the reliance on the self and gifts from heaven, the stages man goes through in isolation and the shock when coming out of it - all presented in a unique and immensely personal voyage. Dignity exudes from the author.
At one point, whilst reading, I was in a torrent of tears and prayed for one of the departed companions in the book. I do not normally cry so easily but this account of one man's life in hell was not an easy affair to read about.
Undoubtably this work has the ability to change ones life.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful read 3 Feb 2006
By A Customer
I loved this book. The translation is smooth and a pleasure to read. The story, based on fact, is both moving and disturbing. You have to question our level of civilization when you read this book. The treatment of the prisoners, and the conditions in which they were kept, are inhumane. The author keeps you with him thoughout - you can feel his dispair.
Wonderfull book
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beautiful writing that kept me hanging on in there through a sad hurtful punishment of the damned. Makes one think about those incarcerated ...in appalling conditions ..through out the world today..guilty or innocent. ..how cruel is power in the wrong hands. Strong intence book
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good 28 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent read that I would definitely recommend to anyone. Arrived as expected and the quality was very good for a second hand book. No problems whatsoever
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring 7 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not a book I would have choosen but read it as a book club choice.
So glad I did, this is a really uplifting book about the strength of the human spirit to cope and survive.
Would highly recommend this book, felt quite humbled by the time I had finished reading it
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