Freedom

Freedom

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by Malika Oufkir
     
 

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Stolen Lives, Malika Oufkir's intensely moving account of her twenty years imprisoned in a desert jail in Morocco, was a surprise international best seller and the second non-fiction title ever selected for Oprah's Book Club.

In her highly anticipated follow-up, Malika reflects on the life she lived before and during incarceration and how dramatically the

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Overview

Stolen Lives, Malika Oufkir's intensely moving account of her twenty years imprisoned in a desert jail in Morocco, was a surprise international best seller and the second non-fiction title ever selected for Oprah's Book Club.

In her highly anticipated follow-up, Malika reflects on the life she lived before and during incarceration and how dramatically the world had changed when she emerged. Malika Oufkir was born into extreme privilege as the daughter of the king of Morocco's closest aide, and she grew up in the palace as companion to the Moroccan princess. But in 1972, her life of luxury came to a crashing halt.Her father was executed for attempting to assassinate the king, and she and her family were locked away for two decades. After a remarkable escape, Malika and her family returned to the world theyd left behind, only to find it transformed.

Living for the first time as an adult, Malika writes candidly about adjusting to the world we take for granted, from negotiating ATMs to the excesses of shopping malls, to falling in love and sex. In Stolen Lives, Malika mourned the children she was not having as she wasted away in prison. When she is finally free, motherhood becomes crucial to Malika's ability to fully live her life: she adopts first her niece, then a baby boy from Morocco. Full of insight and piercing observations, as well as humor, Freedom is as masterful and thoughtprovoking as the original.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Oufkir, whose first book, Stolen Lives, recounted her family's 20 years in Moroccan prisons, now continues her story up to the present, revealing what it was like to be thrust into the free world after years of confinement. A member of a privileged Moroccan family, Oukir had been imprisoned with her mother and sisters after her father, Gen. Mohammed Oufkir, was executed for his part in an attempted coup against the king of Morocco in 1972. Released into a sort of house arrest in 1987 after her sister escaped and initiated a public outcry, Malika and her family were finally allowed to leave the country in 1996. Here she explains how the world opened up for her, new and bewildering, first in France and then the United States. Her stories are both amusing and touching, as she takes on romance, ATMs, and faucets that turn on by themselves and copes with panic attacks that she calls "free-world syndrome." Finally, with the help of a loving husband, she can confront both practical and emotional obstacles, come to terms with her history, and take on the new challenge of adopting two children. Ever charming and gracious, Oufkir is a delight to spend time with. For all collections. Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Uneven follow-up to the Oprah-blessed hit Stolen Lives (2001). That volume chronicled the 20 years the author and her family spent as political prisoners in Morocco. Here, Oufkir charts the strange process of returning to the world of the free. The strongest sections offer trenchant observations about ordinary life. Sickened by the ease with which people waste food, the author finds herself barely able to eat in restaurants; every time she sees a patron pick at complimentary bread and play with pats of butter, she remembers the rotten eggs that were her regular prison fare. She can't quite get her head around credit cards or ATM machines, either. "We no longer call things by their names," she declares, disdaining the replacement of plain words like "the elderly" with euphemisms like "seniors." The book's overall structure, thematic rather than chronological, works well, and translator Coverdale has crafted a conversational but never chatty tone. Oufkir's description of her gradual recovery of healthy sexuality is honest and fascinating. Elsewhere, she falters. A chapter on fundamentalism has potential, but the author ultimately doesn't have any real insight into how "religion set itself up handsomely" during her two decades in jail; the section peters out with an unsatisfying story about some Moroccan men who flirt with radical Islam, only to return to secularism. Oufkir can also be annoyingly coy and cagey; she devotes nine pages to the reparations she was paid by the Moroccan government but never tells the reader how much money she received. If she wanted to keep the details private, she should have cut the chapter; talking around the figure is simply distracting. And nattering on aboutpublishing Stolen Lives and meeting Oprah Winfrey is a bit obnoxious. By turns delightful and frustrating.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401352066
Publisher:
Miramax Books
Publication date:
10/01/2006
Pages:
252
Product dimensions:
0.69(w) x 8.50(h) x 5.50(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Malika Oufkir, born in 1953, lives in Florida with her husband and children. Her first book was published in 2001 and was an international bestseller.

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Freedom 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a reviewer elsewhere has commented, this book does not recount a 'story' in the sense that one might expect from the word. If Malika Oufkir's first book, 'Stolen Lives,' was mostly a chronological account of 'facts' (as co-author Michèle Fitoussi required), 'Freedom' is the retelling of an inward and intimate journey, from victimhood to the strenuous apprenticeship of a self in the 'normal' world beyond prison. Although Malika Oufkir's humor, wit, and genuine warmth shine through this book, her account is not necessarily meant to be a heartwarming or comforting 'story,' it is the witnessing of another kind of struggle than the one we read in 2001, as the author makes her often painful and occasionally joyful way toward a renewed self. The publication of 'La Prisonnière' in 1999, and subsequently of its English translation in 2001, thrust Malika Oufkir into stardom. This proved to be a mixed blessing since the media tended to package her in the confining role of a 'victim,' a role designed to elicit compassion and sympathy. At one point, she recounts in 'Freedom', she 'felt like a strange creature being exhibited for the civilized white man' (p. 217). In her second book, she attempts to free herself from this role, as she repeatedly asserts. We have to take such declarations seriously. This is a woman who managed to survive extreme adversity in great part through her ability to imagine another life and to create fictional characters or settings through which she could momentarily forget her circumstances. Now she is dipping into this pool of creativity in order to become the writer that she potentially was in prison. 'Listening' to her voice, which rings with authenticity in the French original (a quality that no translation, not even a good one as in this case, can fully convey), I sense that Malika Oufkir is acquiring her own, distinct personality as a writer. Rather than living in her imagination with no product to show for such intense inner activity, she has found writing as a critical means of discovering her identity, beyond that of victim and prisoner, and of constructing herself. It is of course significant that this book represents her first achievement as a writer on her own. If at times Malika Oufkir appears to judge the 'free world' in severe or condescending terms, she hardly spares herself either. Apart from a gentle form of revenge against this world for having ignored her family while they were in prison, there is great honesty in her account. Naturally drawn to the homeless in Paris and to their 'desperate' way of grasping the world, for instance, she then measures her own limits when attempting to help people in distress, and she goes so far as to accuse herself of cowardice. She is aware of her own contradictions as well, even blaming herself for having participated (however indirectly) in the tyranny that plagued Morocco, her country of birth, under King Hassan II. At no time does Malika Oufkir claim to give an entirely objective account of her life or of her surroundings. Instead, she focuses on her perceptions and emotions as a way of understanding herself and her surroundings through the process of writing. After the publication of her first book in 1999, she spent years speaking in public to raise people's awareness about the atrocities that had been perpetrated in her country. The time then came for her to turn her 'mission' inwards. What we take as self-evident, she has had to learn, slowly and often agonizingly. Who, never having undergone circumstances remotely similar to the ones she endured, can evaluate the laborious nature of such a renewal? Malika Oufkir accomplishes other goals in this book. By providing updates on her brothers, sisters, and mother, she responds to the concern expressed by many readers of 'Stolen Lives' over the fate of her family. Through nuanced judgments, she also aims to redress the overly negative perception of Morocco that her first book precipitated. And she
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