Leaving Tangier by Tahar Ben Jelloun, translated by Linda Coverdale
Despite his prestigious college degree which should have guaranteed him a bright future, Azel is unable to find meaningful work in his native Tangier, a city in northern Morocco. Mired in self-absorbed disappointment, he spends his days and nights lost in women, wine, and song, living off the hard earnings of his older sister, Kenza. When he meets Miguel, a wealthy Spaniard, Azel recognizes a chance for escape. Although he adamantly denies being a homosexual, Azel nevertheless allows Miguel to buy him a luxurious new life in Barcelona.
Azel’s sister Kenza soon follows as Miguel’s legal “wife,” but insists on remaining independent. Unable to come to terms with his exploited sexuality – not to mention his dissolute existence – Azel falls victim to his own sense of trapped failure.
Already a bestseller in France where it was first published (Jelloun is a Moroccan transplant who immigrated to France in 1961), Leaving adroitly explores the complicated issues of immigration, contrasting two cultures separated merely by the few miles of the Straits of Gibraltar, and yet so vastly distanced by socio-economic differences.
Published: 2009 (United States)