3 out of 4 stars
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The Immigrant’s Lament, written by Mois Benarroch (a Moroccan native), is a relatively short anthology consisting of 53 autobiographical poems most of which are a page or less. Originally published in Hebrew, this book was translated into English in 2016, and has since become available in more than a dozen additional languages, expanding its popularity. Named after the first poem (which highlights this author’s grief after leaving his home country and relocating to Israel), this book engages the reader through tangible accounts of the poet’s life, revealing meaningful aspects as an eyewitness. The free-verse style of literature permits easy comprehension regarding his experiences, which allows one to fully examine the words and read this man’s writing like a narrative-- expunging the traditional (and often anticipated) repeated rhyme of poetry. Additionally, this author offers many traditional themes, covering numerous topics such as love, marriage, death, friendship, war, political affairs, sadness, despair, etc. sending the reader on an emotional roller-coaster from beginning to end.
Although poetry is not my favorite literary genre, I found intriguing features in this book. The poetic device of imagery was used profusely, giving concrete realism to each writing. I could feel the passion of the author and clearly envision the individual settings. Also, the poems address a broad range of real-life situations, including feelings that most individuals encounter at some point. These characteristics created a distinct connection between the poet and me, which was enjoyable and a I could realistically relate to his emotions.
In spite of the positives, I found parts of this book confusing which subtracted from my reading pleasure. Some of the terminology and use of words in his native tongue were hard to understand due to a conflict of nationalities, which could not be deciphered simply by using context clues. Furthermore, the free-verse style (at times) caused lack of clarity, especially when a rather lengthy poem was punctuated primarily by commas. This syntactic choice made pinpointing distinct beginning and end thoughts/phrases problematic.
This collection of poems seems to have been written for mature persons able to grasp controversial components of literature--sexual references, intimacy, and some profanity. Therefore, adults would gain more from this book as opposed to younger readers. In addition, people that favor non-fiction poetry could easily become a fan of Benarroch’s true-to-life writings. On the other hand, this work may not appeal to individuals with limited education since they cannot fully appreciate the beauty of poetry. Also, those seeking to read a single poem, instead of an entire book, or people who expect common poetic elements (set stanzas, “ab” patterns, etc.) may find the author’s style perplexing and unfamiliar.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. This author vividly describes numerous aspects of life, including incidences that are very depressing; however, though, I prefer lighthearted literature coupled with happy endings. I also found a few, but important, grammatical errors which attributed to my less-than-perfect review score. My advice to anyone considering reading Benarroch’s writings is to examine the “About the Author” section prior to undertaking this book; his biography plays a crucial role in comprehending the poems.
The Immigrant's Lament
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