Finally a country with many authors and books to choose from! It feels like it has been awhile. I do not think I have read any books written by a Moroccan author before. Based on the title I thought it would not be a book I would find intriguing, but I decided to read The Happy Marriage by Tahar Ben Jelloun anyway.
The main character in the book is an artist, now paralyzed, relying on other people, having problems moving his hands. The first part of the book is the artist’s view of his life written in third person. He deals with past mistakes, family, art, affairs, jealousy, and naturally, his marriage. The relationship with his wife is not easy. There are already problems from the beginning with getting his posh family accepting a woman from a family beneath theirs. The wife is jealous of his success, but also possessive, paranoid, and making her husband’s life challenging.
Or this is what we are led to believe. At last, the reader gets familiar with the artist’s wife, who finally gets a name – Amina. She calls her husband “Anybody”. She reveals the true nature of her husband, or her version of it. Turns out, she is not the bad person her husband led everyone to believe. She has to deal with his impulsive behavior, his cheating and many other unattractive sides of his nature.
In the end, neither of them is perfect, naturally. The shift in my mind is quite clear, even though I have to be honest and say I did not care for the artist in the first place, but once his wife is allowed to tell her story I feel for her. Every relationship has its difficulties, and theirs is not different, but it makes me sad to see how this marriage and so many other marriages are just facades, and in reality people are suffering.
As I said in the beginning, the subject is not something that gets me intrigued, but I have heard many good things about the author. He is indeed a brilliant writer, and I have no problems seeing him as a master of French literature today. I will definitely read more of his books in the future, but I will be happy to read about another subject.