Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A Riffian's Tune by Joseph M. Labaki

Set amidst the rural Moroccan Rif Mountains lives Jusef, a shepherd boy, whose life is dictated by tradition and superstition. However, Jusef has big dreams and is determined to move away from the life he knows to the big city to receive an education and have a different way of life.

Overcoming extreme obstacles Jusef faces a life away from all that he has known and meets many challenges in his fight for a better future.

This is an autobiographical novel - a genre that always makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. With a straightforward autobiography we get an authors version of events as he or she sees them. Possibly these might be embellished to make better reading or to allow the author to portray themselves as they wish to be seen but nonetheless, it is the authors viewpoint. With novels we, as readers, know what we are getting and acknowledge that what we are reading is the result of the author’s imagination even though some of it may be a composite of events or characters that the author has experienced or known. However, with autobiographical novels I am always left wondering where the truth finishes and when the fictional component takes over.

That said, this was an interesting read and, for me, it’s strength lay in the descriptive passages. It is very atmospheric and the sights and sounds of both city and mountain areas were very well done. Its description of Morrocan culture and the way of life are excellent.

Jusef was well portrayed as a young man who is full of courage and determination and for that we can admire him. However, there were times when I found his actions implausible and ,therefore, felt that I could not quite get a grasp on him as a character.

To be honest I thought this was a good book but not a great one. I read it whilst on holiday and it was a nice easy holiday read as it moves along at a nice pace and is written in a simple style.  However, as I have said before, reading is a very subjective matter and this is only my opinion so would encourage you to give this a try for yourself. I would love to hear what you think of it if you do.

ISBN:  978 0992648404

Publisher: Clunett Press

Price (based on today’s price at Amazon.co.uk)  £5.93

Total saving so far:  £282.42

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