2 out of 4 stars
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The Immigrant's Lament by Mois Benarroch is a collection of poetry that tells the story of a Moroccan man who was born into a Jewish family. Throughout the poems, the Moroccan man goes on a journey where he finds himself and interacts with family, friends, and lovers.
At first, the poems are about Moshe's childhood in Morocco with his parents. He wanted to be a poet, but his mother wanted him to get a Ph.D. One of the lines of the poem “My Childhood” reads, "I don't miss the Jewish community, nor the family who always knows what's best for the others." This was a strong line, as it basically summarizes his childhood. He was always expected to be better than the other children, and when he wasn't, he was put down because of it. He was judged not only by his parents but by his extended family members and random people in the community.
The beginning of the book was a bit confusing for me, as I didn't know how old Moshe was from chapter to chapter. One minute he would be talking about receiving money from his grandfather and being jealous of the other grandchildren and the next he would be talking about loving women. I couldn't make sense of where the poem collection was going, but I was just along for the ride. Some poems were definitely more hard-hitting than others, and I didn't start really feeling something about the poems until the middle of the book.
My favorite poem in the entire book was “Transsexual's Lament.” The line that spoke to me is "What people now see in me is the woman who was a man and I who was never a man will never be a woman." I'm not sure if this is about the author, or if this is just putting yourself into the shoes of a transsexual person, but it was interesting to think about. How would I feel to be stuck in a body that I couldn’t identify with? How would I feel to know that even if I dressed to make myself comfortable that no one would take me seriously? I’m assuming that this was some sort of phase for Moshe as this is never mentioned again in the poetry collection.
My least favorite poem was the very last one, “Self Portrait of The Poet in a Family Mirror.” The poem is around 15 pages long, and I didn’t understand any of it. It was one of those mental rant types of poems, but I just felt as if I was walking in circles as I was reading. By the end, I was just confused but now the book was over! This final poem didn't make me connect with Moshe in any way and didn't make me satisfied for finishing the poetry book. All the final poem gave me was a "that's it?" feeling.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. The overall collection was nice, but there were a few poems where I just felt as if I were trying to read a bunch of random words that I could not make heads nor tails of. The middle of the book was amazing, but some of the poems at the beginning and the end were a bit disappointing. For a book that is 92 pages long, I probably enjoyed around 40 of those pages. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book, but if you are really into deciphering abstract poetry and want to read the more cohesive and hard-hitting poetry in the middle of the novel, I would recommend this book to you.
The Immigrant's Lament
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