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The Sand Child

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Overview

In this lyrical, hallucinatory novel set in Morocco, Tahar Ben Jelloun offers an imaginative and radical critique of contemporary Arab social customs and Islamic law. The Sand Child tells the story of a Moroccan father's effort to thwart the consequences of Islam's inheritance laws regarding female offspring. Already the father of seven daughters, Hajji Ahmed determines that his eighth child will be a male. Accordingly, the infant, a girl, is named Mohammed Ahmed and raised as a young man with all the privileges granted exclusively to men in traditional Arab-Islamic societies. As she matures, however, Ahmed's desire to have children marks the beginning of her sexual evolution, and as a woman named Zahra, Ahmed begins to explore her true sexual identity. Drawing on the rich Arabic oral tradition, Ben Jelloun relates the extraordinary events of Ahmed's life through a professional storyteller and the listeners who have gathered in a Marrakesh market square in the 1950s to hear his tale. A poetic vision of power, colonialism, and gender in North Africa, The Sand Child has been justifiably celebrated around the world as a daring and significant work of international fiction.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement
Hauntingly poetic and original.
Chicago Tribune
Ben Jelloun, a writer of much originality, succeeds brilliantly in infusing his story with a melancholy that attaches itself not just to Ahmed but also to the Arab world.
Washington Post Book World
Mythic, symbolic, at times even highly poetic... At the center of this magical tale the question of gender (and the tangential problems of race and culture) predominates... The ending is absolutely startling.
Library Journal
The Moroccan author here tells the unusual story of Mohammed Ahmed, who, though born a girl, is raised as a boy by her father in an attempt to spare her the life of virtual slavery suffered by her sisters. The story begins with 1985's The Sand Child and concludes with 1987's Sacred Night. As Ahmed matures, she sheds her disguise and attempts life as a traditional Islamic woman. Definitely not your average coming-of-age story. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Chicago Tribune
Ben Jelloun, a writer of much originality, succeeds brilliantly in infusing his story with a melancholy that attaches itself not just to Ahmed but also to the Arab world.
Washington Post Book World
Mythic, symbolic, at times even highly poetic…At the center of this magical tale the question of gender (and the tangential problems of race and culture) predominates…The ending is absolutely startling.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801864407
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 322,252
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Tahar Ben Jelloun was born in Fez, Morocco, in 1944 and has lived in France since 1971. An internationally recognized novelist, poet, playwright, and essayist, Ben Jelloun has received numerous awards for his works, including the Prix Maghreb, the Prix des Hemispheres, and the Legion of Honor. His books include Solitaire, Silent Day in Tangier, With Downcast Eyes, Corruption, and Racism Explained to My Daughter. He is also a regular contributor to Le Monde. In 1987, he was awarded the Prix Goncourt for his novel The Sacred Night, also available in paperback from Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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