Review by Pilar Guerrero -- Gates to Tangier

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Pilar Guerrero
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Review by Pilar Guerrero -- Gates to Tangier

Post by Pilar Guerrero » 13 Mar 2017, 13:30

[Following is a volunteer review of "Gates to Tangier" by Mois Benarroch.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Gates of Tangier is the third book of The Tétouan Trilogy, a historical fiction novel that explores the sufferings and ordeals that Jews have endured for centuries. The protagonists are five siblings of the Benzimra family from Tétouan. The story begins when a lawyer finishes reading the will of the protagonists’ father, who put his children a condition to receive the inheritance: the siblings must find their half-brother born from a Muslim woman around 30 years ago.

This clause puts the protagonists on a journey back to the village where they came from, and it forces them to confront and assume their identity and heritage as Jews, and also to come to terms with their own share of pain and suffering in life.

Even though the protagonists travel from different cities to meet at a Spanish airport and continue the journey to TĂ©touan, most of the plot takes place in the conversations among the characters, or in their interior monologues. These inner dialogues are powerful and portray the conflicts and the emotions that each sibling goes through. The author creates a multi first person narration technique which allows the reader to see the conflict from each sibling's perspective, so the reader can see a bigger picture of the story that none of the characters can see.

The plot develops as the characters speak and it unfolds at a steady pace on each chapter. In the third part of the story, the plot has a twist that gives the novel a new level of complexity and depth. All the loose ends are tied at the end, but the characters pose questions that may open up the story for a continuation.

What I enjoyed the most in this book were the poems between chapters, the author uses these to introduce other characters that the protagonists do not meet. A well achieved aspect in the novel is the creation of a common thread of pain and frustration in the characters about their lives and about being a Jew. All the characters mention this in their interior monologues, yet they all present it in different shades and manners, making them believable and relatable.

What I found difficult to follow were the dialogues between or among the protagonists, there was no clear indication about who was saying what, and I had to go back a couple of times to make sure that I knew who was speaking with whom.

The book contains only a few grammar mistakes that may distract from the story. I believe this is due to the translation process, I would still recommend a revision to make the narration flawless.

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars: the story is engaging and the plot well-paced with a surprising twist, the characters talk about history as much as human emotions, making the reader feel for them. Despite the few mistakes, the narration technique is brilliant, especially in the use of poems to enrich the narration and to move the plot forward.

I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, especially those interested in the history of Jews in the world. Readers interested in psychological novels may also find this book appealing.

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Post by va2016 » 26 Mar 2017, 13:49

Excellent review! Thank you!

You have mentioned about poems between chapters. Have they been translated well?

The story looks interesting, and I might give it a try sometime!


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Pilar Guerrero
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Post by Pilar Guerrero » 26 Mar 2017, 15:13

You have mentioned about poems between chapters. Have they been translated well?

Yes, I think the poems had the music and rhythm of a Middle East poet, I have read translations from other poets before, and the poems have a purpose in the story, they are another way of dialogue and narrative. For me that was the best part of the book.
Thank you for commenting here.

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Post by kdstrack » 18 May 2017, 17:45

Very interesting and complete review. I agree when you say that the book presents the sufferings and ordeals that Jews have suffered. I also think that this method of presenting a story through conversation is common in foreign authors. Thanks for your synopsis. Well done!

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Post by Jaime Lync » 19 May 2017, 12:18

Great review. I haven't read this book but I've read other works by the author and I really enjoy the poetic aspect of them.

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Post by OlgaNM » 26 May 2017, 13:35

Thanks for the great review. I have several of the author's books but have not found a moment to read them yet but you've convinced me to check them out.

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Post by dungs joe » 26 May 2017, 14:47

Nice review though I don't like fiction

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Post by Kibetious » 08 Apr 2018, 08:07

The author having poems at the beginning of some chapters is interesting. I am reading the book currently and I also would have loved if the author was to specify the people speaking in some dialogues in the book. It i difficult to follow the flow of events in a scenario where you just see conversations but you do not know who is saying what.
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Post by Jgideon » 16 May 2018, 03:22

I also read the book and reviewed it. I enjoyed the story as much as you did especially the poems between the chapters.

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