The first chapter of this book tossed me right into the middle of an unfolding family drama. Seated in the office of the lawyer the Benzimra family have just learned the contents of their deceased fathers’ will and the fact that they must find their half-brother born from a Muslim mother and their Jewish father before they can access their inheritance.
At first this work of fiction confused me. I could not understand why it seemed that the writing was just random thoughts on a page flowing from one scenario to the next. I battled to pick up the storyline until I got halfway through the book. That was when I realized that the storyline WAS the random thoughts of a specific character. In the words of Alberto “I’m above this, and behind everything, I write like Alberto Benzimra, only Alberto Benzimra writes like Alberto Benzimra, and no one understands what he writes.” At this point I stopped, flipped back a few pages and started again and I finally understood the rhythm and flow of the book!
The chapters are titled with the name of a character from the book and each chapter allowed me into the mind and the thought process of that character. I experienced their feelings, their fears and their anguish from being born Jewish and who have left their country by their fathers’ instruction, in search of a better life. Now they must return to a life they once knew, again by their fathers’ wish, in search of their brother and with their travels all their memories whether good or bad were flooding off the pages of this brilliant book. Although this book only spanned over a couple of weeks, the writing allowed me to learn much about each character and the issues they were facing that these characters seemed to be my childhood friends who have shared their lives with me over a long period.
The book was insightful and it highlighted the ever-present conflict between the various religions and cultures. Although Gates To Tangiers forms part of a trilogy, the book can stand on its own and once I understood the flow and the rhythm of the book it was an easy read. In my opinion, the book ended on a high – almost like there was something deliberately left untold! Maybe a new series with the origins in this trilogy?
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. If you enjoy fast paced fiction, you will enjoy this book.