Saturday, July 18, 2009

10. "The Sand Child" by Tahar Ben Jelloun

I apologize for not posting in a very long while. I've been off taking care of summery things. I plan on posting much more now that things have sort of settle and I'm getting "back into the game" so to speak. Anyway, here it is:

Ben Jelloun, Tahar. The Sand Child. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1985.
Reviewed by J. d’Artagnan Love

The storyteller in The Sand Child states, “When I read a book, I settle in it” (135). This was my experience as I read through The Sand Child. Set in Morrocco, The Sand Child is a prequel to The Sacred Night and starts at the very beginning of a complicated tale. Ahmed who later becomes Zahra is born female but raised as a male because of zir father’s obsession with having an heir. According to Islamic inheritance laws, only a son can inherit the full fortune of a family’s wealth.

From Ahmed/Zahra’s birth the prose is complicated and mythical. It is required that one “settles into it” to really absorb its worth. Deep and abstract, the text uses little dialogue and shifts between narrators frequently. It is as much about the protagonist as it is about the influence of storytelling in North Africa.

Having also read The Sacred Night I was pleasantly surprised at Jelloun’s ability to graceful move between narrative voices. Each storyteller has a vivid and distinct style. Readers are offered three possible endings to this portion of Ahmed/Zahra’s life. In creating a sort of choose-your-own-ending novel, Jelloun has given readers some control over their reading experience. The readers themselves can become storytellers too.

3.5 darts out of 5

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