When the father of the Benzimra family dies, he leaves a will informing his family of an illegitimate son he fathered with a Muslim woman in Morocco. To receive the inheritance, the family is instructed do everything possible to find that son. They embark on a journey to Tetouan, Morocco, from places as far-flung as Jerusalem, Madrid, New York and Paris. They are in search of their lost brother; a journey that will bring them face-to-face with their Moroccan roots and with their Judaism, a journey that will force them to think about their identities. After this experience they will no longer be the same. The novel reveals the Sephardi-Ashkenazi conflicts that exist in Israeli society as well as the ties and tensions between the Arab world and Europe, and between Middle Eastern and Western cultures. This is a world of complexities and nuances that are often blurred in the versions shown to you by the media.
This is a novel about the little-known world of the Jews of Northern Morocco, full of intrigue, humor, and eroticism. But there is also the possibility of a homecoming.
“Gates to Tangier is not primarily a critique of the marginalization of the Sephardim in Israel, but rather and exploration of the Moroccan component of Sephardic identity. The Benzimras’ pilgrimage to Tangiers, however, is not suggesting that this Moroccan component is the essence of Sephardic identity. Benarroch follows Khatibi’s bilingual paradigm in suggesting that identity is expressed in the intersection of languages.” Adolfo Campoy-Cubillo, Memories of the Maghreb: Transnational Identities in Spanish Cultural Production (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
“Highly recommended reading!”
Five Star Review on Amazon By Daniela
I loved this book! It is the story of a family of sephardic jews with Moroccan roots. The will left by their recently deceased father forces them to reunite and reconsider their heritage and identity. The will requires that they find a half-brother whom they never knew they had. They embark on a journey to Tetouan, Morocco, from places as far-flung as Jerusalem, Madrid, New York and Paris in search of their lost brother. After this journey, their lives, one feels, will be deeply affected. The novel reveals, through the eyes of each character, the complexities of the Sephardi-Ashkenazi conflicts that exist in the Israeli society, the ties and tensions between the Arab world and Europe, and between Middle Eastern and Western cultures. It all comes together when three of the brothers have brief encounters with the lost brother who turns out to be a young, beautiful woman returning to Morocco from Paris where she completed her studies. Of all the characters, Alberto feels like an alter ego for the author and in his words: “I promise you one thing, dear readers, I write as I think, and I don’t change anything, if you want to know what I think, well this here is what I think, in the pages you read I don’t hide anything.”
I highly recommend this book. It left me wanting to read some more of Mois Benarroch’s books!
I received the book for free, in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Mois Benarroch is one of the most enigmatic figures in today’s world literature. Born in Morocco, his writings are rooted in the country’s landscapes and history; as a Sephardi Jew he travels the world of Jewish literature; and as in Israeli living in Jerusalem he incorporates the day to day life and politics of his country. A prolific novelist and poet who writes in three languages he never sets for one secure path and is always exploring new ways to make his literature a fresh one with a long time vision.
His poetry is one of compassion, social-political fight, and human. Multicultural by force, where others take multiculturalism as an idea, his life is forced to live within cultures. His novels take us from literary travel, to science-fiction, time travel back and forth, and a view that encompasses the past and the future, the relationships between Jews and Muslims, the life within cultures and the tragic fate of Christian-Jewish relations, always living a place for hope a belief in better days to come.
Known mainly as a poet in the English language world, thanks to a massive support from independent writers many of his novels are seeing light in English. Gates to Tangier, The Cathedral, Muriel, the Nobel Prize, Lucena, Raque Says (Something Entirely Unexpected), have been published in 2015 and many more are on their way in the next year.
A best-selling novelist in Spain, an award winning poet in Israel, and often featured in the bestselling list of poetry books sold in amazon, now is the time to discover this old new writer with more than 30 books to his name.
Mois Benarroch was born in 1959, and has been awarded with the prestigious Amichay poetry prize in 2012.