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This review is from: This Blinding Absence of Light (Paperback)
A previous reviewer described this book as shocking and she is quite right, it is shocking. She also said she was glad she read it. Again, I totally agree. My review is simply to add a bit more background to that so the potential reader can understand why it is so shocking.
The book is basically about the political prisoners from the Moroccan military who took part in the failed coup against the former king. They were incarcerated in a secret prison for over a decade in the desert and endured some of the worst conditions imaginable.
The book is written from a first person point of view (And apparently this has caused some controversy due to the prisoner in question apparently accusing Ben Jelloun of plagiarism but thats another matter) The prisoners are in complete darkness in a single cell where they cannot stand up straight, the are pretty much kept there out of sight and out of mind. The book describes what they endured and it truly was awful (I had memories of watching the film Papillon as a kid) One part that really got me was one of the prisoners who kept his bread in a sack hanging in his cell eating a little at a time suddenly turning ill. It was only when the guards shone light in the cell they realised that the bag was full of cockroaches and he hadn't seen them in the dark!
Ben Jelloun is an excellent writer, this book is extremely easy to read and I have to say its something I find quite remarkable about the author that you can pretty much read his books almost in one sitting, not because they are short of content or anything but simply because they are well written and well put together.
I dont give 5 stars too often but this book deserves it.