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10 thoughts on “Au pays

  1. Jim Fonseca Jim Fonseca says:

    The story of a devout Muslim Moroccan immigrant living in Paris He's a worker on an auto assembly line at Renault He lives in the Arab ghetto projects where the young Muslims occasionally riot and burn cars but he has no interest in politics – he loves his job and his life Once a year on vacation he returns to visit family in the old village which is like going back 50 years in time He drags his kids along and they get bored after the first couple of days But in his opinion all is well – wonderful really He compares his life with others in the factory so we get little vignettes of the lives and problems of other immigrants Then his children reach adulthood and he is of the age where he has to take compulsory retirement Now what will he do with himself? He gets the idea of blowing his retirement fund on building a palatial western style house in the old village – no running water or electricity mind you and somehow he expects his children to come visit to celebrate the Muslim holidays and maybe even live with him Meanwhile his grown children are completely westernized – they speak French have their own families and two even married Christians Are they packing up to move to the old village? Don't hold your breathWhen he returns to the village to build his house and while he waits for his children to arrive the book switches to fantasy realism as spirits from his ancestral grounds reach out to him The author is probably the best known Moroccan writer He won France’s Prix Goncourt in 1987 for a book The Sacred Night This book is translated from the French Another good book I have reviewed which is about Moroccan immigrants in Europe in this case in the Netherlands is The Book of Doubt by Tessa de Loo This is an edited version of an earlier review I postedphoto of Moroccan immigrants in Paris from theglobeandmailcomphoto of the author from bookslivecoza


  2. Andrew Andrew says:

    Years ago I read This Blinding Absence of Light and was absolutely floored Just jaw dropping melancholy prose set in about as rough an environment as you could imagine Years later I've tracked down another of Tahar Ben Jelloun's novels and found something just as melancholy but rather than set in the explicit bad of a desert prison it's set between worlds Between metropolitan France and the Moroccan village between old and new tradition and modernity and the odd interstices for example the ways in which newly radicalized Muslim youth in Europe are perhaps even alien from their parents than they are from their ancestral lands Like the best postcolonial novels it offers no easy answers no heroes no simple solutions only human struggle


  3. Nilda Brooklyn Nilda Brooklyn says:

    I am a sucker for a day in bed with a book but many years of schooling killed any desire for non academic reading In the last couple of months I have finally begun to come out of my reading coma and my first real author crush is on Tahar Ben Jelloun Ben Jelloun is considered Morocco’s greatest living author and poet I stumbled upon an English translation of his novel A Palace in the Old Village while living in Marrakech and fell in love His descriptive story telling weaves humor and history to provide a portal for the reader to make a physical connection He places his intimate portrait of his characters within the pushpull of political context A Palace in the Old Village is a story about an immigrant’s dream to return home The narrator Mohammad is an economic immigrant that leaves his village in western Morocco after being recruited to join the wave of North African labor that moved to post WWII France After living in France for than 30 years his compulsory retirement pushes him to consider returning to his home village The story is a mixture of heartbreaking and comical insights into all the different components that define home and the complicated and often unresolved relationship of migration to a sense of place


  4. Emmajulia Emmajulia says:

    When someone talks to me about Tahar Ben Jelloun it's like preaching to the converted His latest book is no exception The writing style is faithful to itself and the book is both touching tough even especially near the end and also realistic I easily felt friendship for the almost workman like Mohamed who later retires The reader totally understands his feelings towards the confusing relationship he as well as his whole generation of immigrants have towards France and the contrast between France and his country of origin Morocco I found in this book the same kind of love and devotion to the family that we often see in M Ben Jelloun's books I particularly recommend My Mother I'm impatiently looking forward to his next book


  5. Stephen Durrant Stephen Durrant says:

    This small novel probably will not live on as a significant work of literature but it is very timely and like Ben Jelloun's other writings highly enjoyable The story concerns Mohammed who came to France from Morocco in the 1960's to work at an automobile factory He is a good man who is not at all sympathetic to radical movements within Islam and who in his own peculiar way cares deeply about his family and friends But he is also completely incapable of adapting to France and indeed to the modern world which alienates him from his children who are French than Moroccan After many years as a devoted worker Mohammed is retired and receives a generous pension this itself a French custom he can't fully understand He returns home to build a palace that he thinks will be a gathering place for his children the patriarch's dream His indulgent wife watches his folly as he waits in vain for his children to come home to Morocco which of course is not their home What happens then which I will not disclose to avoid a spoiler alert is a piece of magical realism that will strike some readers as a beautiful vindication of a good man and others as a bizarre way of trying to redeem a character who is in large measure a victim of his own cultural stubbornness I find myself in the latter camp but recommend this novel nevertheless as an important work on the problems of Muslims who live and work in Europe but either cannot or will not adapt


  6. The Book The Book says:

    Muhammad drifted peacefully through his life He never uestioned the ways of the village he grew up in or the customs of his culture even when he and his family were uprooted to France He knew who he was and uietly went through life that way secure in what he knew to be so He locked himself away from the new reality of life in France assuming that things would work out as he knew they would It sounds pretty blissful especially to me who uestions everything and worries endlessly about the future His dreams didn't play out as he envisioned What does?On another note I discovered the existence of Harun al Rashid and his connection to the Thousand and One Nights which delighted me because of the connection to Rushdie's wonderful book that I enjoyed so thoroughly Haroun and the Sea of Stories I love stumbling upon these paths weaving through uite separate works


  7. Edita Edita says:

    Whenever I gazed at the horizon at that dry mass of red and grey rock my dreams were too intimidated to show their faces; I feared they might become stuck in that barren landscape so hard and hopeless Everything was exaggerated in that place cold and heat light and storms the stars that swarmed in infinite numbers on some nights and the clouds that blanketed the sky without shedding the tiniest drop of rain So the dreams stayed sleeping in a cave I never dared to explore I was scared of what I might find Dreams they’re like memories I don’t know where they go or where they hide


  8. yasmine skalli yasmine skalli says:

    tahar ben jelloun is uickly becoming a favorite of mine his poignant writing and reflection in this novel was beautiful this and racism explained to my daughter are wonderful reads


  9. Friederike Knabe Friederike Knabe says:

    The rich colours of home where they make music when my mind is tired but they stay inside me Mohammed the hero of Tahar Ben Jelloun's elegiac and moving story of a simple man from a small village in Morocco feels completely lost in the fast moving modern world Clad in his grey work overalls all his life in France appears to him as nothing but grey I love colors and I keep that to myself I can't make my children understand it but I don't even try don't feel like talking explaining myselfBack in 1962 the young peasant was persuaded to leave his remote village and join the immigrant labour force in France Mohammed had to change from one time to another one life to another Now forty years later he is about to start his retirement and this new situation preoccupies and worries him deeply From one moment to the next it will end the years of daily routines which have made him feel safe secure and needed They have protected him from reflecting on his life and its challenges Everything seemed difficult to him complicated and he knew he was not made for conflicts In this gently and simply told story Tahar Ben Jelloun explores themes of home immigration faith the social and cultural discrepancies between immigrants and their French surroundings and last but not least the resultant mounting estrangement between parents and their children While concentrating on the specific the author's messages can be applied to similar circumstances elsewhereIn his musings much of it conveyed in direct voice Mohammed recalls images of different stages in his life his childhood his marriage the first ever sighting of the sea all memories that he cherishes and contrasts with his life in France It is his firm grounding in Islam however that has always guided his thinking and behaviour His touchstone for everything was Islam My religion is my identity Tahar Ben Jelloun delicately elucidates the intricate correlation between faith and reality in Mohammed's life and interestingly he links it to the concept of time When Mohammed was young time was structured around the five daily prayers and the year around major festivals throughout the seasons We as readers can easily perceive why after decades of time keeping through his work at an automobile plant he feels completely lost in these early days of 'tirement as he calls it How can he fill time now and in France a place where he does not belong at all? Time stretches without structure unless Mohammed realizes he takes on a new project he will build a house for the whole family in the old village Surely that will bring his children back to him and the traditional life as it was before can be rekindledA man like Mohammed barely literate who only speaks his local Berber language has never felt motivated to learn French beyond the basics He can cite the Koran in Arabic but cannot express an independent thought in this holy language He has come to France to work get paid and to return home to his village every summer and eventually for good; his emotional centre is only there His five children on the other hand are growing up in the French environment and speak only French to him The author while seeing the world primarily through Mohammed's eyes such when he describes his hero's attitude towards his wife and inability or unwillingness to comprehend his children nevertheless encourages us to see beyond Mohammed's narrow and naïve interpretation of his surroundings and place his perspective into a broader context And we in turn feel some sympathy for Mohammed's efforts to rebuild his life and for his taciturn acuiescent and submissive wifeTahar Ben Jelloun who also emigrated as a young man to France in 1971 is intimately familiar with the issues that face North African immigrants in France Son of a village shopkeeper he did well in school and was fortunate to pursue his studies in Paris after his release from prison in Morocco He is a prolific and award winning author of many novels and other writings He writes exclusively in French a language he feels is better suited than Arabic for the social topics he wants to address in his fiction Tahar Ben Jelloun's affection for the Moroccan landscape and life in the village is reflected in his use of rich and poetic imagery The fine line between reality and mysticism becomes blurred whenever Mohammed reaches the village For me these passages add some of the most precious aspects in this touching account I tell a story in the hope that it will incite reflection provoke thought That indeed he does with this insightful novel


  10. Danny Danny says:

    Maghreb migration has evidently had a huge impact on the shape of Europe but since immigration tends to be the topic of choice when seeking comfort in scapegoats nowadays across the continent it is a delight to read such a lovely tale of an immigrant who feels so human in his struggles to find a place between two worldsThe protagonist Mohammed has to come to terms with retirement but it is not exactly easy Ever since migrating his life has consisted of routines which are suddenly broken and years of avoiding various topics suddenly hits him hard as he reflects upon the situation with his family His solution fairly delusional is to build a big palace back in Morocco in order to unite his family again Mohammed is a figure for whom you feel a lot of sympathy not least because of all his small paradoxes that make him an anachronistic figure out of touch with reality He's both aware and ignorant caring and cold but ultimately unable to impose his illusion of reality over othersThere are various parts of the novel that were of particular personal interest to me The generational divide is though perhaps not thoroughly presented due to the limited outside perspective central to the story He constantly tells them how it used to be and clings to his belief as a way of clinging to some kind of identity and boy is that familiar The most intriguing part is his conscious choice of ignorance for fear of losing his identity Parents should always be trusted for they know better than their children what’s best for them That’s not always true I know times change but I don’t it is hard to not to pity the man Then there's the interesting aspect of his lack of belonging LaFrance is what's taking his kids from him yet when he returns he's just as much a stranger and an 'other' in the bureaucrat's eyes which is very tellingThese peasants who don’t realise that the state can do nothing for them – they emigrate make a pile of money and arrogantly demand water and electricity from us as if they lived in the cityAll in all it's a fascinating story about belonging about nostalgia about home which will be particularly familiar if you have a migrant background


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Au pays [Download] ➻ Au pays Author الطاهر بن جلون – Larringtonlifecoaching.co.uk في معظم رواياته يتناول الطاهر بنجلون موضوع الهجرة وصعوبة الإندماج، والحلم الدائم بالعودة لأولئك الذين هاجرو في معظم رواياته يتناول الطاهر بنجلون موضوع الهجرة وصعوبة الإندماج، والحلم الدائم بالعودة لأولئك الذين هاجروا من بلدانهم، وخاصة من المغرب، بعد أن يكونوا قد حلّوا مشاكل صعوبة العيشالدِّين، المفاهيم الإجتماعية، اللغة، نمط الحياة، ذكريات الطفولة، الإنتماء كل ذلك، يزيد من الأسئلة التي تعمّق الحيرة، وفوق ذلك يأتي الأولاد الأولاد الذين ولدوا في فرنسا، وليس لهم ذكريات عن البلد، ولا يحتملون نمط الحياة والمفاهيم الإجتماعية التي يسعى والديهما لفرضها عليهم يفقد محمّد السكينة إنهم الأولاد تلك الحياة التي يعيشونهاسأذهب لأرى طبيب مجانين وسأقول له أنا مريض لأني أحب أولادي، أي دواء تنصحني بتناوله؟ هل عليّ أن أشرب سيرو مضاد للحبّ العائلي، أو أتناول حبوباً تنسيني أن لي خمسة أولاد من بينهم بنتاً ذهبت مع غريب على ثقافتنا، على ديننا، على بلدنا؟ أنا فعلت كل لأربيّهمبعد التقاعد عاد محمد إلى البلد وهناك أيضاً ما عاد يمكنه أن يجد السكينة.