Recommendation: The Sand Child

jean c. recommends…

This is a great book about the mysterious, mystical, and constructed nature of gender identity. Written in French by Tahar Ben Jelloun, a Moroccan author, it tells the story of a female child who is brought up as a boy, Ahmed, because his father, after having seven daughters, needs a son. Ahmed (for whom varying pronouns and names are used in different parts of the book) questions his identity and his existence, observes the world around him, and tries to figure out how to live his life, first retreating, then going out into the world.

The story (somewhat magical-realist) is told by different voices and in fragments of narration — each of which presents different variations on the meaning of the story and on the facts themselves. No “truth” or “conclusion” is ever really reached, which very much hit home to me with my own gender identity. There’s no definable conclusion, just a varying group of stories that have more or less validity at any given time…

Also, I felt a shiver of recognition and kinship with the passages describing Ahmed’s intimate aloneness with his body. This is a complicated and sometimes confusing book to read, but really worth it.

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Posted by on September 28th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: books, recommendations 3 comments »

3 Responses to “Recommendation: The Sand Child”

  1. Jay

    Wow. That sounds really good, really fascinating. Going on my to-read list, for sure!

    [Reply]

  2. K

    this is a very interesting book indeed, but i don’t really agree with you on the ”constructed” nature of gender identity

    [Reply]

  3. Anonymous

    sounds a little bit after Lady Oscar

    [Reply]


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