This Blinding Absence of Light

Book Title This Blinding Absence of Light
Author Name Tahar Ben Jelloun
Publishing house Penguin
Country – city UK
Date of issue 1 Sept. 2005
Number of pages 208

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This post is also available in: ar العربية (Arabic)


This Blinding Absence of Light

This book has been translated by Dar AlSaqi

In this extraordinary non-fiction novel, based on a true story, Tahar Ben Jelloun traces the experiences of Salim who, in 1971, took part in a failed coup attempt to oust King Hassan II of Morocco.

With sixty others Salim was incarcerated in a secret prison complex in the Moroccan desert: he was to remain there for nearly twenty years.

The plot is based around the events following the second failed coup d’etat against the late Hassan II of Morocco in August 1972.

The protagonist is a prisoner in Tazmamart, who, despite being a fictional character, is based on accounts of the prisoners who survived their incarceration there.

The plot focuses on how prisoners who were kept in the extremely harsh conditions of Tazmamart survived, through religious devotion, imagination and communication.

The prisoners spent their sentences in cells that are described as being only five foot in height and ten foot long.

The prisoners in the novel are not actively tortured, but are fed poorly and live without light.

Maureen Freely reviewed the book for The Guardian, and wrote that “it defies any expectations you might have built up from .

It refuses the well-meaning but tired and ultimately dehumanising conventions of human rights horror journalism; it is not a political tract…. Although it is technically a novel, it is a novel stripped, like its subject, of all life’s comforts.

” Freely wrote about the main character that “there is something Beckettian about his limited environment and studied hopelessness”, and compared his literary voice to “the language of Islamic mysticism”.

Freely ended the review: “It is, despite its dark materials, a joy to read.”

This Blinding Absence of Light

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This post is also available in: ar العربية (Arabic)

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