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This Blinding Absence of Light Paperback – 1 Sep 2005
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'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 Solzhenitsyns One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich -- Scotsman
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.
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
The book is a dark read but has to be experienced as it demonstrates the power of the human spirit to survive against all odds.
Although not a autobiology it is drawn directly from the experiences of one of the prisoners, and is powerfully simple in some parts to describe such deep human suffering.
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