3.5 starsThe constraints of length mean that the life of Maiouf, of Mohed himself to some extent, jump from event to event Yet this makes it a book of vivid pictures Instead of being left feeling like the story has been treated lightly, the reader feels like they have seen the highlights in full technicolour, the unimportant scenes cut away to leave the others with a far greater impact.Maiouf is a fascinating character Especially in the first third of the book, the alienation he suffers, the position as outsider , is stark and emotional Yet he is not an entirely likeable man, in the book at least I can t judge the author, of course His treatment of the woman he belatedly realises he loves is harsh and than a little reminiscent of the kinds of behaviours he detested in his family as a child Perhaps he was doomed to repeat the ways in which he was treated, having little opportunity for positive relationships after the death of his mother Still, the spirit and drive which led him to succeed personally was incredible At its heart, the book is about the transformation of a poor, unwanted Bedouin boy in to a man of the world In expanding his horizons through determination and hard work, Maiouf attempts to escape the labels and limits placed on him by his background He moves from being what others consider him to be, or want him to be, into a period of questioning, and finally, understanding In the novel, there is a sense that this knowledge comes too late, but in reality, Mohed Altrad seems to have mastered the kind of person he wants to be and answered the questions about who he is.Many thanks to Mohed Altrad, Grove Atlantic, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review. Int ressant roman parlant de l ascension d un enfant de Syrie qui vivait dans la campagne recul e et qui gr ce l ducation a fait des tudes et a commenc travailler pour des exploitants p trochimiques Son lien sa terre natale va s tioler et il va se sentir en conflit partout o il se trouve Et son histoire d amour naissante va en p tir C tait tr s juste au niveau des r actions et sentiments qui viennent avec l ge adulte et comme parfois les circonstances nous perdent. This novel is sweetly told in a way that reminded me strongly of the children s books And Now Miguel and Esperanza Rising and even Anne of Green Gables although the protagonist is not as overtly plucky or talkative as Anne by any means Here, in short, is the story of Badawi He is an orphan, he is wretchedly poor, and he overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve seemingly impossible goals It s a familiar story The action is presented in a straightforward manner The story moves forward without a hint of novelistic flourish or digression I would not think the novel very interesting or new except that it tracks completely with the author s own life and childhood challenges Altrad himself was an orphaned Bedouin who was expected to become nothing than a nomadic shepherd Instead he became a billionaire businessman with a net worth that Forbes estimates at around 2 billion These facts about the author s life changed the read for me completely The over simplicity of the prose, when judging the book as fiction, became instead, when considered autobiographically, a thoughtful restraint, a humility in this author about his own achievements I hope to see Altrad s biography soon, written by a writer who can reveal just how Altrad did it In the case of this small novel it s enough to know that somehow this fantastic story really happened. Devastatingly beautiful story Told in simple and direct language a story of a man lost to himself It begins with his childhood as a poor Badawi longing for a sense of being loved, accepted and educated He is determined to learn, and against all odds he succeeds, but at what cost As time moves on he develops a relationship with Fadia They make commitments to each other Later, she represents a painful memory of his past, his bare feet, torn clothing, and paternal rejection A piece of his father s cold indifference cuts into his being Money, power, and an artificial environment take hold To recall the gentle empathy and kindness of his first teacher and to allow himself to feel Fadia s love creates a vulnerability that he stubbornly rejects The contrast of the oil rich anonymous rooms in prefabricated buildings with the wild perfume and freedom of the desert is at the center of his crisis A sad tale of loss, alienation, and what happens when we lose ourselves before we are found The pure end up among the stars Quiet and frightening. This slim novel, originally written and published in France, is autobiographical The author, Mohed Altrad, was born in Syria and his mother died from giving birth to him His life was filled with indifference and downright hate from his grandmother and father Maiouf pushed himself into school and this becomes a true rags to riches story The novel doesn t create that easy a scenario Maiouf struggles for every crumb of life he can scratch away at and we, the readers struggle with him Maiouf gets himself into school in the village near where lives the Bedouin life with his grandmother It is the beginning of a very long journey to achieve what he wanted, to see the world beyond the sand dunes he knew as home This story is written with a light touch, as if Altrad takes us for a long flight shimmering over the sands from Syria to France and then to the United Arab Emirates It is a Dickens like story, heartbreak and pathos, but it is clearly the writer s redemption A story of our time, to know and understand what the children of Syria suffer and dream of, a gift of a story.Original publish date was 1995 so this story does not involve the horror that Syria is today.Copy courtesy of NetGalley and Grove Press, Black Cat Sept review to come Published To Wide Critical Acclaim In France, Badawi Is Mohed Altrad S Heartrending Debut Novel, Inspired By The Author S Own Narrative Arc From Bedouin Orphan To Engineer And Finally Billionaire BusinessmanIn The Syrian Desert, A Young Boy Watches As His Mother Dies She Was A Repudiated Woman, Abandoned By The Boy S Powerful Father, Leaving Ma Ouf To His Scornful Grandmother Though The Bedouin Tribes Have Stopped Their Centuries Long Travels Across The Dunes Their Tents Long Since Converted Into Sedentary Shacks Ma Ouf S Grandmother Wants Him To Carry On Tradition As A Shepherd But From The First Time He Sneaks Off To The White Walled Schoolhouse To Watch The Other Children Learn, Ma Ouf Envisions A Different Future For Himself This Is One Extraordinary Child S Story Of Fighting For An Education, And A Life, He Was Never Supposed To Have, From A Tiny Desert Village To The City Of Raqqa, From The University Halls Of Montpellier On To The Oil Fields Of Abu Dhabi But Is A Life Of Exile The One He Wants Can A Child Whose Name Means The Abandoned One Ever Make A Home For Himself With Each Step Forward, He Feels The Love Of His Youth A Steadfast Young Syrian Woman Named Fadia And The Shifting, Haunted Sands Of His Native Village Pulling Him Back Toward The Past He Thought He Had Left Behind Translated from the French this is the author s heartbreaking tale of loss and perseverance growing up Bedouin Syrian The writing is both stark and lush and the story is sparse with detail but rather full of deep emotional longing An interior often quiet and lonely journey into one man s soul reflecting the desert that pushes him and becomes his refuge. I found the first half of the book quite intriguing with its poetic descriptions of the desert and the Bedouin lifestyle The second half, not so much, though I suspect I would have liked it if this was an actual autobiography rather than thinly veiled fiction.Superb blurb Now, in those days Maiouf put justice before everything else Ah, justice Even before friendship or love He was starting to grasp the miserable fate that Syrian society had in store for his bedouin kinsman So he lent an ear to what the brotherhood had to say And he d drawn a new strength founded on conviction from their exhortations With their arguments, they d reinforced the resentment he felt toward powerful men like dignitaries or the architect But not everything they claimed convinced him He d to come to know a few young Jewish boys, and the concept that Judaism was evil incarnate seemed very strange to him He d also felt that the brotherhood s interpretation of the Koran was unsophisticated As for the condemnation of the Western world, he was too fond of the films from those faraway places to give that credence He hadn t joined them, but had learned from them to view the world and certain customs around with a critical eye.Second superb blurb He weaved through some panicking sheep being ineptly herded by children who were hardly confident than their flock He slipped between groups of men, through dust and shouts, then walked along a small esplanade where fat, smug, pot bellied men unquestionably tradesmen sat stuffing their faces with sandwiches and swilling them down with arak and Coca Cola just to show how well they were doing They ll be drunk before the end of the day, Maiouf thought as he passed them He climbed over bolts of cloth, then on to some badly made crates that threatened to collapse he was scolded, pushed, and jostled but he didn t back down before finally spotting his father. The child had never really believed the storytellers, never really accepted that someone could always win like the heroic soldiers in their tales But he d listened to them so often he d eventually convinced himself that, if you fought, you could always hope Page 13 If you don t listen to your history, you ll be as light as a cloud in the sky, you ll never be able to settle, light as a feather carried away on the wind Page 18 Why does he want to find a liar He asked Because he doesn t know what an attorney is Look, can you see the man in the hat over there, facing him He s the public prosecutor He s just finished his speech for the prosecution The Bedouin is challenging it He thinks he s at a lying competition and he s asking to be allowed to choose his own champion Page 72 He hurried on He wanted to get away from this flat, stony ground He wanted to press on into the dust, to heat the fine sand crunch beneath his feet To trample that judge underfoot along with all those who judged his life He was irresistibly drawn by the supple, shifting curves, the swelling waves which rose up into the sky, abolishing a sense of space, stretching into infinity As in the old days He wanted to get to that mysterious place where the land came to an end Page 214
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Badawi book, this is one of the most wanted Mohed Altrad author readers around the world.
- 240 pages
- Mohed Altrad
- 25 September 2018 Mohed Altrad