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Au Pays (French Edition) (French) Mass Market Paperback – October 3, 2010


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 169 pages
  • Publisher: Gallimard Education (October 3, 2010)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 2070437949
  • ISBN-13: 978-2070437948
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,011,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Mohammed Ben Abdallah has lived a devout, quiet life in France, always longing for his home country, Morocco. Now facing mandatory retirement from the factory where he�s worked all of his adult life, he contemplates going home to Morocco for good. His dream is to build a house large enough for his six children and their families to join him. Though he loathes the forced retirement, Mohammed is gripped by this dream and starts construction on his dream house, even though his rebellious, thoroughly Westernized children show no interest in joining him at his house or forming much of a relationship with their old-fashioned father. Esteemed Moroccan author Ben Jalloun explores Mohammed�s complicated feelings of ennui and alienation from the country that has been his home for decades and from his own children, whom he neither knows nor understands. The story builds to an end that seems as inevitable as it is symbolic of Mohammed�s isolation within his own family. Lovers of literary fiction should take note of this affecting novel. --Kristine Huntley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"With this novel, Ben Jelloun, a native of Morocco, gives us an unvarnished look at a Muslim's life in the West, and reminds us that literature can help us understand one another."
-Minneapolis Star Tribune

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe VINE VOICE on March 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
..."where they make music when my mind is tired but they stay inside me..." Mohammed, the hero of Tahar Ben Jelloun's elegiac and moving story of a simple man from a small village in Morocco, feels completely lost in the fast moving, modern world. Clad in his grey work overalls, all his life in France appears to him as nothing but grey. " I love colors and I keep that to myself. I can't make my children understand it, but I don't even try, don't feel like talking, explaining myself..."

Back in 1962, the young peasant was persuaded to leave his remote village and join the immigrant labour force in France. Mohammed had to change "from one time to another, one life to another". Now forty years later, he is about to start his retirement and this new situation preoccupies and worries him deeply. From one moment to the next, it will end the years of daily routines which have made him feel safe, secure and needed. They have protected him from reflecting on his life and its challenges : "Everything seemed difficult to him, complicated, and he knew he was not made for conflicts." In this gently and simply told story, Tahar Ben Jelloun explores themes of home, immigration, faith, the social and cultural discrepancies between immigrants and their French surroundings, and last, but not least, the resultant mounting estrangement between parents and their children. While concentrating on the specific, the author's messages can be applied to similar circumstances elsewhere.

In his musings, much of it conveyed in direct voice, Mohammed recalls images of different stages in his life: his childhood, his marriage, the first ever sighting of the sea... all memories that he cherishes and contrasts with his life in France.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Margaret A. Mcglinch on February 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
Sometimes it doesn't take a lot of words to convey huge ideas, and this book does exactly that. In its short span, A Palace in the Old Village tackles big questions of identity, belonging, family, and religion. It is a fictionalized memoir of Mohammed, who emigrates from Morocco to find work in France, and who clings to his old culture, adapting to France as minimally as possible. His children are born and raised in Europe, and their ties to Moroccan culture are as tenuous as Mohammed's ties to French culture. Ostensibly the most important thing to Mohammed is his family, but he and his children find it difficult to relate and have completely divergent expectations of their relationship because of the cultural gulf that separates them. The memoir is set near the end of Mohammed's life, after he retires from an assembly line job and has to contemplate how to find meaning in the rest of his life and satisfaction from what has gone before.

It's not a new storyline, but it's told with exceptional skill and insight. This is one of the most gracefully written books I've ever read. I'm not given to doing this, but I read chapter four multiple times just for the sheer pleasure of the writing. It's so powerful that in places it's absolutely shattering, but it still manages not be overwrought because it's in the voice of the main character, who is more or less impassive in his recollections. It's an affecting story that deserves wide readership.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Neodoering on September 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
Mohammed Thimmigrant is a Muslim from a small village in the south of Morocco who immigrated to France in his youth and worked for forty years in an auto plant. His life has been defined by his job and his children, but he has retired from the former and does not really understand the later. This novel is an examination of Mohammed's life after retirement, with flashbacks to earlier periods and many recollections of things that have happened to himself and other immigrants as they learn to deal with life in France while still yearning for the village they left behind.

There are plenty of books on the immigrant experience, but this one is unusually felt and is very well told and is filled with heartbreak. Mohammed has essentially lost his children to Europe in general and France in particular, and they and their father do not really know each other any more. Tired of France and despairing of the empty life of retirement for a man who valued his role as a worker, Mohammed goes back to his home village and has a large house built where his children can come and visit him. Then, in a fit of stubbornness and unhappiness he sits down in a chair and refuses to get up again, waiting for his children to come and visit him. I won't give away the end of the story, but it's appropriate to what has come before, though it strains credulity a bit. You end the story feeling sorrow for this simple man and his fractured, emptied-out life, and you wish him well on the journey before him.

Other reviewers have been hard on this book, so I came to it with diminished expectations. However, I found it to be an excellent read. Ben Jelloun really gets you to care about Mohammed by giving you the high and low moments in his life and by showing you the issues which shape him.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dave Guilford on June 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For me the main value of "A Palace in the Old Village" is the insight it gives into the Muslim expatriate life in Europe and into Moroccan village life. Other than that, this slight novel was, frankly, difficult to care about. The author's decision to use a removed narrator observing and reporting on the main character was off-putting; there is, for instance, very little dialogue. But the more significant problem is the character himself, a recently retired French autoworker who is a dull, perhaps simpleminded, man incapable of comprehending the world around him, both in Europe and Morocco. At times this strains credulity; he is shocked by a prostate examination (a staple of the annual physical exam for men over 40-50). More significantly, his alienation from his children seemed willful and narrow-minded, again making it hard to empathize as he sinks into delusional fantasy.
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