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Customer Review

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding novel, 14 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Palace in the Old Village, A (Paperback)
This relatively slim novel by Tahar Ben Jelloun is a wonderful, if poignant read. At the heart of the story are several themes some of which resonate with the current instability across North Africa and the Middle East. The story is a reflection on one man's life, Mohammed, who migrated from his village in Morocco to spend forty years working in a French factory only to see his children grow up, become French citizens and be assimilated by French society and culture. They not only reject the Moroccan values that he holds dear but they are also dismissive of him as a father. His outlook on life is anchored in a cultural context that has no meaning to them. He struggles to understand why this has happened as he reflects on how his own father raised him and the pivotal role of family in Moroccan culture. The author writes sympathetically about Mohammed's alienation and as the novel unfolds you feel increasingly sorry for this man who believes his children would never abandon him. He is a man who fears death (retirement is described as an introduction to death); but in many respects this is also a metaphor for the loss of cultural identity and alienation that lies at the heart of the novel. Outstanding.
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Location: Ceredigion, Wales

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,228