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Hardcover The Shadows of Ghadames Book

ISBN: 0385731043

ISBN13: 9780385731041

The Shadows of Ghadames

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

IN THE LIBYAN CITY of Ghadames, Malika watches her merchant father depart on one of his caravan expeditions. She too yearns to travel to distant cities, and longs to learn to read like her younger... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

2 ratings


A character study, a novel of historical fiction, an young adult's introduction to foreign culture, or a bold little step in the story of gender equality -- it does not matter why this book was read or how someone chose to categorized it; it succeeds on all fronts. A little glimpse into the world of a late-18th century Libyan 12-year-old girl is, by no means, an oversaturated subject matter in the world of books these days (if ever!). It is, however, perhaps all the more reason to pick it up. This is unexplored territory for almost every reader, and THE SHADOWS OF GHADAMES should not disappoint any of them. The story of Malika is character-driven with an engaging, fresh plotline that showcases the inserted "you've never been here before" set of facts about cultural, religious, culinary and societal customs that don't seem forced, thank God. The introduction of what might seem to be uncomfortable subject matter like polygamy is handled beautifully, if not artfully, and it is absolutely clear to me that the author truly respects all of her characters. Part of the success of this work is also due to Catherine Temerson's magnificent translation that is alive with beautiful, poetic language. Her work (translated from the original French) has nuance and energy, and is a delight to read. I recommend this book for whatever reason you can find to pick it up, particularly because of the contrast you'll find with our current technological world. Today's students (at least mine) demand that things happen for them and that they're entertained, and for them there is little satisfaction in quiet, thoughtful solitude. As a contrast to the "I'm SOOO bored," mantra of today's youth, I think we really need our children to develop perspective and alternatives to the ever-present materialism and noise of 2007. THE SHADOWS OF GHADAMES is an excellent introduction to that lesson.

Power of the shadows

A bit of context. When I reviewed "Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind" (a tale about a Pakistani nomadic daughter and her struggle against repression), I characterized it as a slow moving epic. The kind of thing that kids should read but that if you forced it down their gullets they'd immediately detest. And though "The Shadows of Ghadames" is similar to "Shabanu" in a number of ways, I simply cannot repeat this advice. Here we have a small, unassuming, but brilliantly succinct encapsulation of the maturity of a young woman in late nineteenth century southern Libya. The book is fascinating and short, but says everything in its mere 118 pages that needs to be said. Unlike some historical fiction novels written for children, I'll be recommending this book to any and every kid I see. It's an infinitely interesting look at a world unlike our own but can (as "Shabanu" author Suzanne Fisher Staples says in her blurb on the back of the book), "explore universal truths about the condition of being human". Once again Malika's father is taking off from the city of Ghadames to sell his wares to lands distant from his daughter's home. As a girl, Malika is finding the freedoms she experienced as a child curtailed with the approach of puberty. Soon she will be condemned to remain on the rooftops of the city where all the women live, like her mother and her father's second wife Bilkisu. Malika challenges a society where she isn't allowed to learn to read and where the only garden she'll soon be seeing is the red one painted on the walls of the roofs. It isn't long before such brooding is changed to fear, however, when she and Bilkisu discover an injured man, hunted by the townspeople for preaching a different religion. Without Malika's father around, the women take it upon themselves to hide and tend to the wounded man. Through this act of kindness, Malika grows to learn more about the world of the women, far above the ground, and what they are truly capable of in spite of their entrapment. It was with great shock that I reached the end of this book, only to discover that "The Shadows of Ghadames" has been translated from the original text to what we read here. Originally the work of French author Joelle Stolz, the prose is lyrical and fascinating, without the stilted sentences that sometimes pepper a translated work. Better still, this book is interesting from page one onwards. There's a thrilling blindfolded race across a roof, lurid descriptions of the celebrations women have on their own, and complicated relations that never rely on black and white stereotypes. In most novels like this one, the young man rescued would turn out to have a saintly disposition and would teach Malika how to be her own woman. Stolz turns this convention on its head, instead having the young man sneer at the ministrations of the women, angrily curse their ignorance (which he sees as willful), and teaches Malika to read possibly because he has nothing else to do. Li
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