Seemingly cursed to father only daughters in a society that devalues females, an Arab conceals the birth of an eighth girl by proclaiming the child, Ahmed, a son and heir. The tale that follows is a cynical, dreamlike exploration of the roles into which Arab men and women are shaped: shackles to some, yet a clear identity and a well-defined bridge connecting the individual to society. At first Ahmed takes a dark delight in ""his'' secret, observing to his mother scornfully, ``You keep quiet and I give the orders. How ironic! How have you managed not to breathe the slightest seed of discontent into your daughters?'' Later a madness descends on ``him'' and is chronicled in letters, a diary and a continually unwinding story with more than one ending. The fragmented, elliptical approach Jelloun takes to his subject is not entirely successful, but his narrative can be savored for its rich, incantatory prose. (September 20)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1987 Release date: 09/01/1987 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.