Friday, January 22, 2016

The Happy Marriage - a novel by Tahar Ben Jelloun

Here is a piece from the Independent on a new novel by  Tahar Ben Jelloun that has been translated into English. Its about a not so happy marriage between a Fessi man
and an Amazigh (Berber) woman from Southern Morocco.  His novels always seem to catch your attention, but we sometimes wonder who is Ben Jelloun's intended audience.


The Happy Marriage by Tahar ben Jelloun, trans. André Naffis-Sahely, book review: 'Living hell' for husband and wife

Tahar ben Jelloun's thumpingly ironic title fronts the tale of a long, fractious and toxic partnership

by Boyd Tonkin
Thursday 21 January 2016

Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina with the questionable claim: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

If what applies to families also goes for the marriages that make or break them, readers of fiction may beg to differ. At least since the age of Tolstoy, Flaubert and Henry James, suffering couples in the novel tend to run to type.

Tahar ben Jelloun, the powerful and prolific Moroccan-born novelist who migrated to France in 1971, knows all the pitfalls of his chosen genre. His thumpingly ironic title fronts the tale of a long, fractious and toxic partnership, a "living hell" for both husband and wife. The latter acknowledges: "We were not made to be together". So how does Ben Jelloun, always a resourceful and versatile storyteller, renovate this shop-worn material? Be patient, wait and see.

In 2000, a distinguished Moroccan painter has a serious stroke in Casablanca. Stricken by the immobility that diminishes him from a "brilliant, elegant and celebrated" artist to a helpless invalid who sees "a Francis Bacon painting" in the mirror, he has all the time in the world to reflect on his creative and emotional life.

His recovery inches forward at a glacial pace. Enlisting a friend as his amanuensis, he uses this enforced hiatus to compose a memoir. It swiftly descends into an embittered indictment of his wife, their relationship, marriage itself.