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In this extraordinary n-fiction vel, 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. In starkly eloquent, beautiful prose, Ben Jelloun relates the prisoners' experiences as they struggle to survive. The son of a witty, feckless courtier who disowns him, Salim tells stories to keep sane - from the suras of his beloved Koran to the plot of A Streetcar Named Desire. Even in the darkest, most terrible conditions, sympathy, insight, the human quest for meaning and understanding, never desert Salim. The resulting vel is a wrenching yet exquisite celebration of the human spirit and its determination to survive. 'A masterpiece' Judges of the IMPAC award 'a sad and splendid book' New York Times Book Review
Tahar Ben Jelloun was born in 1944 in Fez, Morocco, and emigrated to France in 1961. He is one of North Africa's foremost novelists. Tahar Ben Jelloun's novels include The Sacred Night which received the Prix Goncourt in 1987 and Corruption.
Shortlisted for Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2006.