Top critical review
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Interesting subject, should have been longer
on 26 January 2010
I heard about this book earlier this year (2010) when Mr Ali was awarded the Granadillo award in my natal Granada. I listened to his speech and was curious about his book, so I want and bought it.
It clearly shows that Mr Ali was in Granada while writing this book. The geographic and historical places are accurately described and positioned.
The book tells the story of a muslim family in the reconquered Granada, faced with the three possibilites every muslim faced at the time: convert to christianism, leave the peninsula or die fighting. Different members of the family choose different paths and the drama is served. As a background to the dilemma they face, there are dark secrets in the family that we discover as we read. However, all this only takes place over 240 pages. The characters lack depth and events, family deaths and the unravelling of hidden secrets happen too quickly.
It is also worth mentioning that the author has his own agenda here, as it is his right given that it is his book. The one page epilgue bears no relationship to the whole story. It almost seems like a cheap jab at the cruelties commited by the Conquistadores in America.
To my mind, the book would have benefitted greatly by a more extended portrayal of characters and emotions. Granada post the reconquest was a unique melting pot of cultures at the hub of events that would shape Europe in the coming centuries, which is why I think the reader deserves more.