1 out of 4 stars
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Book Review for the book, 'The Expelled' by Mois Benarroch
Review done by Melissa-Ann van Eeden
This book is presented as a science fiction story wherein the author experiences his life as being reminescent of that of his ancestors, the sephardic jews, who were never entirely welcome in Morocco. The author feels the same way living in Israel, where for a large part of his life acceptance into society was gained by dismissing all ties to his homeland, Morocco. As the author gets older he realises that he no longer wants to live like that and he expresses radical changes in his way of viewing things. Since the author is an author in the story, his views are expressed within his various works.
The story is presented in several sections. There is the main story which details the life of the author and a mysterious woman, who may or may not be the past version of his younger wife, and then there is the story within the story where the author reads one of his own books to the mysterious woman. The story within the story details a bus trip in which the people on the bus are divided by their mistrust, hatred and ignorance of each other. Nevertheless, the people on the bus are faced with several obstacles that they need to overcome by working together and making shared decisions. I believe this story of the bus is trying to bring across many controversial topics including segregation, discrimination and the oppression of one group of people by another. It is unfortunate then that the writing, grammar and prose do not support or aid this effort. Instead, I found myself overwhelmed and confused when reading this particular part of the book. There was too much happening simultaneously and no clear distinction between which character was saying what and when. The reading process is made more confusing by the fact that the main character is relaying what happened on the bus to interrogators and he has a habit of inserting a lot of opinion and nonsense into his version of events.
After the section on the bus, the story reverts back to the original author and his thoughts and feelings about being a Morrocan in Israel. It becomes clear that the author's life and literary experiences have had a big impact on how he views himself and the world and it is clear that he feels as if he does not really belong anywhere.
The rest of the book passes by in a rather uninspiring fashion. The question of who the mystery woman is is never really answered and I fail to see how the different sections of the book link up with each other. At times it felt like I was reading excerpts from a variety of different books. The book also comes to an abrupt end that feels hurried and unfinished and brings an unsatisfying book to an unsatisfying end.
I expected a lot more excitement and magic from a book that is supposedly science fiction and I can honestly say the subject matter did not match the genre. There were also quite a few grammatical errors, namely several words were lacking a space between them. For example, 'sayingit's' on page 16; 'andcontinuing' on page 14; and 'chairsaround' on page 23. I would say this book is suitable for mature teenagers from about 17 years and up as there are a few swear words and two sexual scenes. The subject matter might interest those who are of the same nationality as the main character or the author, but this is not a book that I would recommend to the everyday person on the basis of me finding it very confusing, uninteresting and very difficult to finish. I therefore rate this book 1 out of 4 stars.
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